Recently, the NC Stop Torture Nowgroup released a comprehensive report on extraordinary rendition and called upon state officialsto stop any such extraordinary rendition flights from operating at the NCJohnston County Airport. The report, prepared by professors and students at theUniversity of North Carolina School of Law, states that the CIA has beenrelying on Aero Contractors, Ltd., a North Carolina operated civil aviationcompany to transport detainees to international destinations for detention,interrogation and torture.
Extraordinary rendition flights, as they are known,are used by the CIA to transfer individuals—suspected of being terrorists—fromthe countries in which they were apprehended to CIA-run or other countries’ facilities,where they are subject to several months, if not years, of detention. Theapprehended individuals are interrogated, tortured and denied any kind ofcommunication with their relatives and legal or consular counsel.
According to the report, Aerooperated several flights at least from 2001 to 2006, in which individuals weretransferred to CIA black sites or other countries.
The report was compiledbased on declassified government documents, public records, court documents,testimony, and other public sources. The NC anti-torture group also accuses the state of North Carolina of complicity inallowing the flights to occur even in the face of evidence that individuals,such as Khaled El-Masri, were picked up, shackled, blindfolded, and hooded, andthen flown to black sites where they were waterboarded and subject toforced nudity, stress positions, and sleep deprivation. In the case of El-Masri, he was interrogatedfor several months before his interrogators realized they had a case ofmistaken identity.
PHR is particularly concerned withthe treatment of persons who are transferred to other countries for the solepurpose of coerced interrogations, as it amounts to torture and cruel, inhuman,and degrading treatment, both on the flights and in the facilities they werebrought to. Additionally, such transfersviolate the UN Convention Against Torture which not only prohibits torture andcruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,but also prohibits participating in the transfer of individuals to places whereit’s likely they will be tortured or abused.
Moreover, the detainees are transferred without access to due processand legal or consular counsel, are seldom informed of the charges against them,and detained for long periods of time. These are examples of indefinite detention,which has been analyzed in a recent PHR reportwhere it has been demonstrated that indefinite detention can cause severe physicaland psychological harm in healthy individuals, independent of other aspects orconditions of detention.
Extraordinary rendition is unlawfulunder US and international law and therefore should end immediately. The NC report—breathtakingly extensive indocumenting evidence of such acts—should instigate state and federal officialsto thoroughly investigate and hold accountable both public and privateindividuals who have engaged in this illegal and immoral conduct.