Yesterday, the Council of Europe condemned the United States for torturing terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Council of Europe is made up of three main institutions:
European Court of Human Rights
Commissioner for Human Rights
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
You can learn about their history, mission, and structure here.
The Council was set up to:
• defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law,
• develop continent-wide agreements to standardise member countries’ social and legal practices,
• promote awareness of a European identity based on shared values and cutting across different cultures.
Since 1989, its main job has become:
• acting as a political anchor and human rights watchdog for Europe’s post-communist democracies,
• assisting the countries of central and eastern Europe in carrying out and consolidating political, legal and constitutional reform in parallel with economic reform,
• providing know-how in areas such as human rights, local democracy, education, culture and the environment.
What America does in Cuba is not really a matter that comes under their purview. But their resolution also “calls on European countries to refuse to comply with U.S. requests for extradition of terrorist suspects to the camp and urges the United States to stop violating Guantanamo detainees’ rights relating to their status as prisoners of war.”
Here are extensive excerpts from the Associated Press piece:
STRASBOURG, France – Europe’s human rights body condemned the United States on Tuesday for using what it termed “torture” on terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and it called on European countries not to cooperate in interrogating Guantanamo detainees.
A Pentagon spokesman said the United States was running “a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantanamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terror.”
In a resolution, the Council of Europe also urged the United States to cease the practice of secret detentions and to investigate all instances of unlawful treatment of detainees at the naval base in eastern Cuba.
“The circumstances surrounding detentions by the USA at Guantanamo Bay show unlawfulness on grounds including the torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees,” said the resolution, adopted by the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly.
While supporting the United States in its efforts to fight terrorism, the resolution said Washington had “betrayed its own highest principles in the zeal with which it has attempted to pursue the war on terror.”
The U.S. government has denied using torture at the base, but investigations into alleged abuse there are ongoing.
“U.S. policy condemns and prohibits torture,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico said. “U.S. personnel are required to follow this policy and applicable law.”
He said Guantanamo detainees receive adequate shelter and clothing, culturally appropriate meals, the Quran, prayer beads, access to mail and reading materials, and medical care…
…”What we see in Guantanamo has nothing to do with justice,” council member Boris Oliynik said. “The conditions there are medieval.”
The resolution also criticizes the practice of “rendition,” or removing suspects to other countries without judicial supervision for purposes of interrogation or detention.
It also calls on European countries to refuse to comply with U.S. requests for extradition of terrorist suspects to the camp and urges the United States to stop violating Guantanamo detainees’ rights relating to their status as prisoners of war.
“The situation of prisoners at Guantanamo is very far from acceptable international standards,” said Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee and member of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly…
This is just one more humiliation for the American people. Godwin’s Law be damned…