The Rendition of Two Suspected Terrorists Lands Poland in the Hot Seat


The United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) runs a global apprehension and incarceration operation of suspected terrorists, known as “extraordinary rendition”, which developed after the 9/11 attacks. Rendered persons were reported to have undergone torture by the receiving countries.  Yesterday, Thursday, July 24, 2014, marks the first time a court has condemned a European state for its role in the rendition program.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland had violated the rights of two suspected terrorists from Saudi Arabia, Abd Al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri and Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, by allowing their transfer to a secret detention center in Poland, where the two men were coerced and tortured. The existence of a C.I.A. “black site” prison in Poland has been widely reported for years, but the United States government considers the list of countries that hosted the prisons to be highly classified.

“The C.I.A. has never formally revealed the locations of its secret overseas prisons, but intelligence officials, aviation records, and news reports have placed them in Afghanistan, Jordan, Romania and Thailand, as well as Poland and other countries. Out of fewer than 100 prisoners held there, roughly 30 were subjected to what the C.I.A. called “enhanced” interrogation techniques, according to agency officials.”

Both suspects are now being held at the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Nashiri and Husayn fell into the category of “High-Value Detainees” (HVD), since they were terrorist suspects likely to be able to provide information about current terrorist threats against the United States due to their involvement in Al Qaeda. The suspects in their respective cases alleged that Poland was in violation of the following Articles of the Convention: Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) ;  Article 5 (right to liberty and security); Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life); Article 13 (right to an effective remedy); and Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial).

Gen. Michael  V. Hayden, a former director of the C.I.A., “has confirmed that the harsh interrogation technique known as waterboarding, which simulates drowning, was used on Abu Zubaydah, Mr. Nashiri and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks.”

The panel of judges presiding over the European Court of Human Rights, ordered Poland to pay 230,000 euros (which translated to $310,000 American dollars) in damages to the two men, who successfully argued that Poland violated prohibitions on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment and had undermined their right to a fair trial. The Court also sought assurances from US authorities that the death penalty would not be imposed on these two suspects. The judgment of the court is not final, and Poland has three months to appeal if the country wishes to do so for the sake of it’s reputation. What do you think about rendition in general? How do you think prisoners like these two men who plotted and killed thousands of people around the world, including many Americans should be treated?


Picture: AmericanEvangelical

One comment

  1. No matter how gruesome of an act one commits, torture on the individual is never justified. Many use torture in order to obtain information from a detainee, but using tactics that violate human rights is not the way to go. There are other ways to punish these men for the heinous crimes they caused. One way could be reducing privileges prisoners may have while detained, such as limited contact with one another and with individuals who may be involved in similar terroristic activity.

    While it was correct of the ECHR to order Poland to pay damages to these two men, I think the best remedial action that should be taken is injunctive relief to insure that the torturing of detainees cease. These “secret overseas prisons” should be inspected and monitored for continuing abuse. Closing these facilities could be a possibility as well. Ordering a country to pay detainees is a minimal deterrent to stopping torture.

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