ECHR finds Lithuania liable assisting the US with torture – JURIST

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Lithuania liable on Tuesday for assisting the US with the torture of a man from Saudi Arabia at Detention Site Violet, a secret CIA prison in Lithuania, in 2005. 

The court found that Lithuania violated several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights against the applicant Mustafa Ahmed Adam al-Hawsawi, including Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 13  of the Convention. These included failing its obligation to respect human rights, prohibit torture, and not violate al-Hawsawi’s right to life, security, and liberty, a fair trial, and a private and family life. 

Al-Hawsawi was captured in Pakistan in 2003 and suspected by US authorities of involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He alleges that as a result of the torture at Detention Site Violet, he now suffers from colorectal pain and rectal prolapse, chronic degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, chronic headaches and migraines, hypertension, hearing loss, chronic sleep disturbances and compromised liver health. In his affidavit, al-Hawsawi claimed that he was sodomized, kept in continuous solitary confinement and underwent other “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The court ordered Lithuania to pay al-Hawsawi 100,000 euros ($110,000) for damages and 30,000 in costs. The court based its ruling on a 2014 report published by the US Senate on “CIA torture.”

Lithuania may continue to face liability for assisting the US with torture, with the court establishing in the decision that “in 2002-2005 the CIA-related aircraft repeatedly crossed Lithuania’s airspace.” The court urged Lithuania to “undertake a full criminal investigation as quickly as possible.” The ECHR previously found Lithuania liable in a similar 2018 case, also for facilitating illegal torture by CIA operatives within the country. There are other torture sites scattered across US allies, including Poland, Romania, Afghanistan and Thailand.

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