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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:10, November 15, 2005
EU Members proven to host secret US prisons could face sanctions: commissioner
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The European Union (EU) would impose political sanctions on member states if they are proved to have hosted alleged secret CIA detention centers, European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security Franco Frattini said Monday.

However, he ruled out any possible official inquiry into the claims as the EU "does not have the powers of a national judge."

If it is proven that the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States did have set up secret prisons in some European countries as was reported, it would constitute a grave breach of both the Treaty of the European Union and national laws, Frattini said at the European Parliament.

If evidence was provided, it would be an issue for a criminal investigation at national level, he said in response to a debate on alleged secret prisons in Eastern Europe where the CIA has detained top al Qaeda suspects.

However, Frattini said the evidence to facilitate an enquiry, such as photos or witness statements, was not available and the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, does not have the power to carry out a full scaled enquiry obliging member states to handover relevant documents.

Nevertheless, the commission is intensifying its contacts with the US Senate and Congress and will continue its policy of questioning member states and candidate countries on this issue, he said.

During the debate, European parliamentarians slashed out at US practices which violated human rights and demanded thorough investigation into the matter by the European Commission.

Baroness Sarah Ludford from Britain bombarded the US government for its way of launching the war on terror. Washington had made " disappearances a US tactic" and the anti-terror war had opened the "blackest of black holes," Sarah Ludford said.

Helene Flautre from France said the secret prison allegations, if proven to be true, represented a violation of the UN Convention against Torture. She called for the commission to get to the bottom of the matter as "it was sapping our credibility."

Vittorio Agnoletto, an Italian MEP, criticized the European Commission for not doing enough to probe the prison claims and trying to minimize the impact of the issue. He said there was evidence, including some from the US, to prove that hidden prisoners and torture centers do exist in Europe.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that the CIA established a global network of covert prisons after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that has included locations in eight countries, including Afghanistan, Thailand and several Eastern European countries.

Many Eastern European countries have denied the allegations. The European Commission said it had no information on the issue and could do nothing except for encouraging member states to look into the matter.

Source: Xinhua

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