Reprieve calls for judge-led inquiry into Libya rendition case following ECtHR anti-torture ruling

Maya Foa

Human rights organisation Reprieve has called for a judge-led public inquiry to establish the full extent of Britain’s involvement in the rendition and torture of Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar by the CIA following anti-torture rulings yesterday from the European Court of Human Rights.

The court held that Lithuania and Romania violated the rights of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri by allowing them to be detained at CIA ‘black sites’ on European soil.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was subjected to “inhuman treatment” at the secret prison in Romania, which operated from 2003-2005. Abu Zubaydah was tortured at a black site in Lithuania that the CIA ran from 2005-6. The new CIA director, Gina Haspel, oversaw the torture of Mr al Nashiri at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002.

Romania and Lithuania also allowed the CIA to transfer the men to other prisons, the judges found, exposing them to “a foreseeable serious risk of further ill-treatment”.

This judgment comes shortly after the UK government’s unreserved apology to Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were abducted by the CIA with British help and rendered to Libya, despite near certainty they would be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s secret service.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Tony Blair, who was Prime Minister when Belhaj and Boudchar were abducted, hinted there is more to the story than he can publicly discuss. “There’s a lot of things in this case, some of which have been out in the media, some of which have not,” he said.

Reprieve’s director Maya Foa said: “This judgement shows how important it is for the courts to hold torturers and their enablers to account. Sadly abuses like these are not just part of history.

“Donald Trump has just appointed Gina Haspel, who oversaw the US torture and rendition programme, to lead the CIA, so it is all the more important we know the truth about British involvement.

“The Prime Minister’s apology to Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar is an important first step, the next must be a full public inquiry.”