Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Extraordinary rendition

Delivered in Plenary - 5th July 2006

Mr President

Unlike Mr Moraes I was opposed from the very start to the Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners, and it should stop right now in its tracks. It is an expensive exercise, duplicating Senator Marty’s efforts in the Council of Europe, and one driven by a political desire by the left and liberals to bash America, and the CIA in particular, in their efforts to fight global terrorism.

I believe that the Fava report is heavy on allegations and accusations, but light on proof. In a hazardous project as widespread in the west as fighting terrorism, inevitably some mistakes and excesses may have occurred, but in my opinion there was no systematic US policy for extraordinary renditions to torture abductees in third countries.

Furthermore, there is no proof whatsoever of the existence of CIA detention camps in Romania or Poland. Simple renditions of illegal combatant terrorist suspects through EU territory are a proven fact, but not necessarily illegal under international law where torture is not involved.

In any case, I agree with Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Professor of Law, when he argues that there exists a vast black hole in international law as regards combating terrorism, with categorisation of detainees anachronistic and the rules governing how such detainees are treated currently dangerously blurred. I believe that he is correct in arguing that many of us tend to stick with comfortable old ways, rather than addressing the difficult adjustments to the law that we may need to make vis-à-vis the balance we have to strike between human rights and the security of our public.

Furthermore, a recent visit to Guantánamo by MEP colleagues from this House vindicated my long-held view that immediate, as opposed to long-term, closure of Guantánamo is not desirable, as many of those held there are extremely dangerous threats to our EU Member States’ national security and it is not possible to deport these individuals, as many might face execution or torture if returned to their home countries like Saudi Arabia or Egypt, where they are well known and wanted as known terrorists.