NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A new European Parliament report on the role of EU states in CIA renditions gave "only half the story," a U.S. human rights group said.
European Union governments have already "directly undermined the global ban on torture," the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper issued Tuesday.
HRW said EU states had "relied upon empty promises of humane treatment, known as 'diplomatic assurances,' in efforts to justify the return of terrorism suspects to countries where they risk being tortured."
"In the report ... the European Parliament's Temporary Committee on illegal CIA activity in Europe focuses on CIA flights and U.S.-sponsored transfers of terrorism suspects. It also calls on EU member states to oppose the use of 'diplomatic assurances' on torture in returning terrorism suspects. Europe pioneered the use of these 'no torture' promises in the 1990s, well before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States," HRW said.
"The European Parliament is right to focus on ending European complicity in illegal CIA activity," said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director of Human Rights Watch. "But if Europe is serious about ending its complicity in torture, it also needs to stop homegrown policies that undermine the global ban on torture.
"Diplomatic assurances simply do not protect against torture," said Cartner. "European governments have used these empty promises as a fig leaf to justify sending people to places where they risk being tortured."
HRW noted that in July, the European Parliament urged its member states "to reject altogether reliance on diplomatic assurances against torture."
"Now that Germany has taken on the EU presidency, Chancellor Merkel's government should urge all EU states to heed the parliament's call," said Cartner. "European governments' complicity in torture must end."