Polish PM must raise CIA secret prison with Obama

May 27, 2011

A coalition of legal and human rights organisations is today calling on Prime Minister Donald Tusk to raise the issue of the CIA’s secret prison in Poland with President Obama.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Interights and Reprieve are jointly calling on the Polish Prime Minister to use the historic occasion of President Obama’s visit to ask for the cooperation of US authorities with Poland’s investigation into the CIA ‘black site’.

Among the people who have been detained and tortured at the military base at Stare Kiejkuty was Abu Zubaydah, who was recently recognized as a victim by the prosecutors running the criminal investigation into the site. There he was tortured by CIA agents into making confessions which have resulted in him being held in Guantanamo Bay to this day.

The organisations are calling on Prime Minister Tusk to stress to the US President that his country’s failure so far to cooperate with Poland’s criminal investigation is unacceptable – and that Poland itself will be in breach of its international obligations if it fails to investigate fully allegations of torture on Polish territory.

Adam Bodnar, Secretary of the Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights said:

“The Polish Government has declared that it wants to promote human rights during its tenure of the EU Presidency. However, this will be difficult if Poland fails to clear up its dirty and unexplained record of involvement in the CIA’s rendition program.”

Danny Silverstone, Executive Director of Interights, said:

“Poland has a clear obligation to conduct an investigation into the torture claims. This investigation should be capable of leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible. A failure by Poland to act promptly may lead to it being found in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve said:

“The President’s visit provides an opportunity for Poland to remove the stain the secret CIA prison has left on the country’s reputation. The Prime Minister must tell President Obama that the US’ failure to cooperate with the investigation is completely unacceptable.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For more information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1082

2. In an interview ahead of Poland taking over the EU Presidency on 1st July this year, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said:

“If we want to protect people against dictators or repression or torture, don’t you need that rule to be universal so as to not end up with a situation where we do so only when it is comfortable, profitable and safe?” The Guardian, Friday 8th April 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/08/donald-tusk-poland-new-europe-series

3. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights is a Polish NGO which has been investigating Polish involvement in the CIA rendition program since 2005. www.hfhrpol.waw.pl

4. Interights, the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights, works to promote respect for human rights through the use of law. www.interights.org

5. Reprieve is a legal action charity which uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and secret prisons around the world. www.reprieve.org.uk