Rights groups have urged European Union lawmakers not to dilute on Wednesday a report that accuses their governments of colluding with the CIA on alleged secret flights of terrorism suspects in the bloc.
The European Parliament is set to vote on the report after a year of investigations into charges that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had secretly held terrorism suspects in Europe and flew some to states that practice torture.
The draft report accuses some of the bloc’s governments of being aware of alleged secret CIA flights transporting terrorism suspects and of concealing the truth.
But the European Parliament’s main group, the conservative European People’s Party, will vote against the report if it is not toned down. A party official said it wants the report to say that hard evidence to substantiate the accusation is limited.
The assembly’s second largest group, the Party of European Socialists, tabled an amendment to remove a call to urge the bloc’s 27 governments to launch an independent probe and to punish states found to have breached the law.
“Last-minute attempts to weaken the report are a worrying sign of the European Parliament’s vulnerability to national and party interests, despite the grave nature of abuses: kidnapping, torture and disappearances,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
“A weak report shows that the EU is very quick and strong in criticizing atrocities in the Sudan or in China, but not when these abuses are taking place in Europe,” Human Rights Watch’s Reed Brody told Reuters.
The vote on the report comes at a moment when judges in Italy, Germany and Spain are investigating suspected transfers of terrorism suspects.
The draft report, already adopted by the assembly’s civil liberties committee, says there is strong evidence of illegal CIA “renditions” of terror suspects.
It accuses more than 10 EU governments including Germany, Britain, Poland and Spain, of either knowing of secret transfer of terrorism suspects or being stopovers for suspicious CIA flights, but gives no direct proof.
“This report is biased,” the European People’s Party lead lawmaker on the probe committee, Jas Gawronski, told reporters on Tuesday.
Washington acknowledges the secret transfer of suspects to third countries but denies torturing them or handing them to countries that did.
The European Parliament has no legal powers on these matters and can only make recommendations.
At least 1,245 CIA flights would have flown into or over Europe in the four years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the draft report says.