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NC Anti-Torture Group Releases Extraordinary Rendition Report

Matteo Quattrocchi on January 25, 2012

Recently, the NC Stop Torture Now group released a comprehensive report on extraordinary rendition and called upon state officials to stop any such extraordinary rendition flights from operating at the NC Johnston County Airport. The report, prepared by professors and students at the University of North Carolina School of Law, states that the CIA has been relying on Aero Contractors, Ltd., a North Carolina operated civil aviation company to transport detainees to international destinations for detention, interrogation and torture.

Extraordinary rendition flights, as they are known, are used by the CIA to transfer individuals—suspected of being terrorists—from the countries in which they were apprehended to CIA-run or other countries’ facilities, where they are subject to several months, if not years, of detention. The apprehended individuals are interrogated, tortured and denied any kind of communication with their relatives and legal or consular counsel.

According to the report, Aero operated several flights at least from 2001 to 2006, in which individuals were transferred to CIA black sites or other countries.

The report was compiled based on declassified government documents, public records, court documents, testimony, and other public sources. The NC anti-torture group also accuses the state of North Carolina of complicity in allowing the flights to occur even in the face of evidence that individuals, such as Khaled El-Masri, were picked up, shackled, blindfolded, and hooded, and then flown to black sites where they were waterboarded and subject to forced nudity, stress positions, and sleep deprivation. In the case of El-Masri, he was interrogated for several months before his interrogators realized they had a case of mistaken identity.

PHR is particularly concerned with the treatment of persons who are transferred to other countries for the sole purpose of coerced interrogations, as it amounts to torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, both on the flights and in the facilities they were brought to. Additionally, such transfers violate the UN Convention Against Torture which not only prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, but also prohibits participating in the transfer of individuals to places where it’s likely they will be tortured or abused. 

Moreover, the detainees are transferred without access to due process and legal or consular counsel, are seldom informed of the charges against them, and detained for long periods of time. These are examples of indefinite detention, which has been analyzed in a recent PHR report where it has been demonstrated that indefinite detention can cause severe physical and psychological harm in healthy individuals, independent of other aspects or conditions of detention. 

Extraordinary rendition is unlawful under US and international law and therefore should end immediately. The NC report—breathtakingly extensive in documenting evidence of such acts—should instigate state and federal officials to thoroughly investigate and hold accountable both public and private individuals who have engaged in this illegal and immoral conduct.

Places: United States