EU countries urged to scrutinise secret services

Commissioner Frattini supports the Council of Europe’s (CoE) appeal to its member states to better respect the fundamental rights of suspects and control secret services in the fight against terrorism.

EU Justice and security Commissioner Franco Frattini spoke to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, on 27 June 2006, when 46-member body debated a resolution on the illegal so-called ‘rendition flights’ presumably operated by the CIA using airports and other infrastructure in Europe. The resolution followed up on a report by Swiss Senator Dick Marty, published on 8 June, which “revealed a network that resembles a ‘spider’s web’ spun across the globe […] composed of several landing points, which […] are linked up among themselves by civilian planes used by the CIA or military aircraft”. 

On 27 June, Marty said CoE member states should take the lead in setting up a new worldwide legal order to deal with the terrorist threat. ”We must do so with our friend and ally the United States, but we must do it on the basis of the values which have been built up over the years, particularly in this Organisation”, Marty said.

The Strasbourg Assembly voted to continue its inquiry into the secret flights and urged its member states to pass laws to better monitor air traffic as well as their national secret services. 

Commissioner Frattini repeated his appeals to EU member states to inquire into the CIA abductions, and to co-operate with each other in doing so. “It is clear”, he said, “that the only way of pursuing efforts to identify the various parties which may be responsible is in the context of rigorous procedural guarantees, entrusted – if all the conditions are met – to judges who are independent and free of political constraints.” 

Frattini also sent a clear message out to EU governments to bring their secret services under stricter parliamentary control: “I believe that a political signal can be given to the Member States: the reform of intelligence and security services, which obviously comes under the sole jurisdiction of the Member States, should draw on maximum powers of coordination between Heads of Government and tighter Parliamentary scrutiny.”

US foreign ministry spokesman Sean McCormack said on 8 June, that Marty’s report had lots of accusations, but “no real facts behind it”. 

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