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Donald Trump

Poland and Lithuania reject CIA jails that may be proposed by Trump

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 January, 2017, 3:19am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 January, 2017, 3:19am

Poland and Lithuania said on Thursday they would not allow the United States to locate new secret prisons on their soil if President Donald Trump chooses to reinstate an old CIA programme that detained and interrogated terrorism suspects abroad.

Both eastern European countries are close allies of the United States and hosted now-defunct “black site” jails that were used during President George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism” after the attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York.

US officials have said Trump may order a review that could lead to the restoration of programme. Similar facilities, where interrogation techniques often condemned as torture were used, were located in Romania, Thailand and Afghanistan.

“There is no proposal for that and there is no room (for talks),” Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told journalists, when asked if her government would agree to such prisons. “My answer is no.”

Lithuania’s foreign affairs minister, Linas Linkevicius, told Reuters his country was ready to cooperate with the United States on all strategic issues, but that human rights needed to be safeguarded.

“Torturing of people is not possible according to international law, code of conduct - not just legally but morally,” he said in an interview.

“I do not believe that any civilised state should apply these methods. It’s not just my personal position, it’s the position of my state.”

Lithuania faces two lawsuits in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) alleging detainees were jailed at a detention facility it knowingly hosted a decade ago - something never acknowledged by its officials.

A parliamentary inquiry in Lithuania in 2010 found that state security helped the CIA establish premises suitable for detention in a building in the capital, Vilnius, though it said there was no proof the facility was used to hold prisoners.

The ECHR ruled in 2014 that the CIA had run a secret jail in a northern Polish forest that was code named “Quartz”. It was the first time that a court in Europe had said that the CIA operated one of the “black sites” on the continent.

Poland’s constitution states that no one can be subjected to torture, or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

Lithuania’s Linkevicius, whose country spent a large part of the 20th century in the Soviet Union but has since joined the EU and NATO, warned the new US administration not to resort to “wishful thinking” in its dealings with Russia.

“Deals and agreements should be based on reciprocity of respect. It shouldn’t be at expense of other countries’ sovereignty, other countries’ rights. Those would not be steps towards stability,” he said.

Referring to a failed attempt by Barack Obama’s administration to ‘reset’ America’s relationship with Russia, Linkevicius said: “Talking in IT terminology, sometimes a reset is not enough. You should change the software.”