Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and sexual assault, were among the catalogue of atrocities referenced by Left MEPs in today's European Parliament debate on the use of torture by the CIA.

Cornelia Ernst said the recent US Senate intelligence committee report confirms that the CIA's torture programme was even more extraordinarily brutal and widespread than previously known. “This report proves that the CIA has been systematically torturing prisoners for years. It must now be followed by action, with agents as well as policy makers brought to justice. This applies in the US, but also in European countries where the CIA secret torture prisons operated.”

For Kostas Chrysogonos the report is proof of the lack of respect for human rights at the top of US politics. “They regularly infringe the UN convention against torture but apparently here in Europe we're not too bothered about it and are trampling human rights underfoot, particular via austerity policies.”

Naming practices such as rectal hydration, sleep deprivation, simulated repeatedly drowning, and rape threats, Pablo Iglesias said “the problem we have is that the people defending these practices are considered democrats. It is troubling that we have MEPs in this chamber from governing parties that collaborate with CIA renditions and torture programmes.”

“When you read the details of these techniques there are all sorts of euphemisms for what is a kind of descent into hell,” Javier Couso told the chamber. “We need to investigate and find out who is guilty and bring them to justice. It's not enough to condemn, we need to ensure we prosecute the guilty, otherwise the EU must stop talking about human rights.”

Martina Anderson raised the point that the CIA claim that their agents stopped short of torture was based on a 1978 European Court of Human Rights judgment on what constituted torture. “That case was provoked by methods practiced by British forces in Ireland in 1971 against a group of 14 men. The men were subjected to the sorts of techniques later used by the CIA so the British government is guilty of torture and it should investigate, acknowledge and apologise for the past,” she said.

MEPs heard statements from the Commission and Council on the issue today. A resolution by the European Parliament will be voted at the February plenary session.


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