WARSAW, Poland — Europe’s top human rights court ruled Thursday that Poland violated the rights of two terror suspects by allowing the CIA to secretly imprison them on Polish soil from 2002-2003 and facilitating the conditions under which they were subjected to torture.
The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights marked the first time any court has passed judgment on the so-called “renditions program” that U.S. President George W. Bush launched after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Even though the rendition program has been abolished, lawyers for the suspects believe that the U.S. and other governments continue to operate in too much secrecy, using national security as a pretext for intrusive surveillance and other practices which violate individual liberties. They welcomed the ruling, hoping it will encourage limits on that kind of secrecy.
“Governments still engage in abusive practices and try to hide the facts,” said Amrit Singh, a lawyer at the Open Society Justice Initiative who represented al-Nashiri before the European court. “The broad message from today’s ruling is to end the impunity of national governments.”
The court, based in Strasbourg, France, said Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to stop the “torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, who were transported to Poland in 2002.
It ordered Poland to pay $175,000 to Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect, and $135,000 to al-Nashiri, a Saudi national charged with orchestrating the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors.