According to independent and reliable sources, a secret CIA prison,
where detainees were tortured, was located in Poland between 2002 and 2005.
Special CIA-leased aircrafts landed at Szymany airport and passengers
in the custody of the CIA were transferred to the Polish Intelligence
Agency Training Centre in Stare Kiejkuty.
Testimonies of people held in secret CIA prisons paint a horrifying
picture of the use of torture. CIA operatives had at their disposal
a number of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, which in practice
amounted to violations of international human rights standards.
News about secret CIA prisons in Central and Eastern Europe was first
published in 2005 by the ‘Washington Post’. At first the Polish media
reacted with scepticism. An investigation by journalists ensued later
and revealed a number of new facts. There is currently an on-going
public debate in the country about detainees, prisons and accountability.
At the beginning, most Polish authorities categorically denied all reports about
CIA flights and the secret prison in Stare Kiejkuty. High-level officials continue
to hide behind the excuse of state secrecy and national security.
There is little doubt remaining that a secret CIA prison was located
on Polish territory. Three persons have already been recognised
by the Polish prosecutors as victims (injured parties). This means
the prosecutors may have evidence that they were held in Poland.
The USA has been holding people at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for over 11 years - most of them
without any charge or trial. The detention centre is associated with a long list of human rights
violations under American law and international human rights standards.
In response to the 11 September 2001 attacks in the USA, the US government took a series of counter-terrorism
measures in its so-called “war on terror”. One of the key measures was the CIA’s rendition and secret detention
programmes. These operations involved the establishment of secret prisons - also known as “black sites”
– in a number of countries, including in Europe. Many people were abducted, secretly detained, and subjected
to enforce disappearances and torture and ill-treatment. The US government has failed to hold those responsible
to account; and the European governments that facilitated these operations have also failed to carry out human
rights compliant investigations into their own role and to bring those responsible for such abuses to justice.
In 2008, the Prosecutor General opened an investigation into Poland’s involvement
in the secret CIA operations in Poland, but the investigation has been mired in secrecy
and plagued by excessive delays. Details of how the investigation is being conducted
and who it involves are defined as state secrets.
Compelling evidence leaves little doubt that a secret prison operated in Poland between 2002 and 2005.
Detainees were reportedly held there in violation of Polish and international law and tortured or otherwise
ill-treated. An ongoing investigation in Poland has already taken over 5 years.Poland can play a critical
role in Europe by asserting its commitment to human rights. The authorities must complete the ongoing
investigation into CIA operations on Polish territory, bring those responsible to justice and reveal the truth
about its involvement in the CIA rendition and secret detention programmes.