Lithuania Blocks the Sensational Investigation into a Torture Issue in the EU

Oct 2018

In 2006, the European Parliament initiated creation of a commission to check out the information about functioning of secret CIA prisons in Europe. Later, about 130 witnesses were examined. Biased on their evidence, 12 EU countries were suspected of allocating on their territory American temporary prisons. Being under pressure of the UN Human Rights Committee, in 2009, Barack Obama signed an order to wind up all secret CIA prisons abroad. Despite that, both the ECHR and other independent human rights watchdog organizations didn't stop searching for the evidences of the existence of CIA secret restricted access facilities in the EU countries. Thus, in 2011, Amnesty International and Reprieve sent to the General Prosecutor's Office of Lithuania some data, referring to the clandestine imprisonment and tortures of a Pakistani citizen Abu Zubaydah. Unfortunately, even at that time the international human rights community was shocked with the callousness of Lithuanian law enforcement bodies towards that case. Vilnius was too formalistic during its own investigation of the crime committed against the Pakistani man. The main argument of the Lithuanian functionaries of not being involved into the case of Abu Zubaydah was the claim there were some other CIA facilities including an intelligence support center in the country, but their rooms weren't used as torture chambers. A bright evidence that Lithuania doesn't want to admit gross violations of human rights and to disclose their details is the ruling ineligible to be elected to state posts of the former Lithuanian president Rolandas Paksas, whose impeachment in 2004 is associated with his denial to allocate CIA prisons in that country.

In order to help the international investigation, it was enough for Vilnius to admit the fact of the crimes committed on its territory, and to interrogate those ones who were responsible for the cooperation with the CIA in the framework of re-location and clandestine imprisonment of the suspects in terrorism. In 2005-2006, president Valdas Adamkus who was in force at that moment and ex-attorney general Arvydas Pocius were in charge of those matters. However, the Lithuanian law enforcement bodies did not ask them for explanations. Nevertheless, during many years of work the ECHR and the UN Human Rights Committee could both find and legally registered a bunch of evidences that CIA secret prisons were definitely located in Lithuania. As a result, on May 31, the ECHR recognized the responsibility of the Lithuanian authorities of having allocated CIA secret prisons on that territory and called upon to pay to Abu Zubaydah a €130,000 compensation. Despite the warning of Lithuanian judge in the ECHR Egidijus Kūris that the accusations of Vilnius put forward by the ECHR were compelling, Lithuania made an appeal . Also, the Lithuanian government ignored the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances demand to find until September 15, 2018 people responsible for allocation of CIA secret prisons, and to start a correspondent trial.

Thus, Lithuania has been ignoring for 8 years the appeals of the international community to investigate the violations of human rights on its territory. Such actions of the Lithuanian leadership may become a subject of a separate investigation of the ICC in the nearest future. According to Egidijus Kūris, the Collegium of the Grand Chamber of the ECHR will hardly accept the Lithuanian appeal, and that means Vilnius will not only be obligated to pay the compensation to Abu Zubaydah, but also to address on behalf of Dalia Grybauskaitė to the USA with a demand to bring back the illegally extradited Pakistani man to Lithuania.

The blaming of the actions of the Lithuanian government by the international community, the drawing as much media attention as possible to the situation with both the civil and political rights in Lithuania, and the complete disclosure of the local functionaries' actions on the allocation of the CIA secret prisons will be a hard lesson not only for Lithuania, but also for other countries, which in defiance of the European values still conceal notorious crimes, and block the international investigation of the human rights violations.