According to a report by the Open Society Foundation released this week, Zimbabwe was among 54 countries involved in the “secret detention and extra-ordinary rendition” of suspects as the US hunted down those responsible for the attack.
The report claims that five suspects were held in Zimbabwe for a month following their illegal arrest in Malawi during a secret joint operation involving the CIA and the country’s National Intelligence Bureau.
Saudi national Fahad al Bahli, Ibrahim Habaci from Turkey and three other individuals were arrested in June 2003 and were taken to Harare where they spent a month before being shipped off to Sudan.
Intelligence authorities in Harare have not commented on the allegations.
After the 9/11 attacks the CIA launched a twin programme under which suspected terrorists were held at centres outside the US where they were subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” that also involved torture and other forms of abuse.
The agency was also granted authority to engage in “extraordinary rendition” or the transfer without legal process of detainees to the custody of foreign governments for purposes of detention and interrogation.
“Both the secret detention program and the extraordinary rendition program were highly classified, conducted outside the United States, and designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of the law. Torture was a hallmark of both,” the Open Society report claimed.
The report says there were no known judicial cases or investigations in Zimbabwe relating to its participation in CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations.
But it adds that while primary responsibility for the human rights violations associated with the CIA’s secret programmes “no doubt lies with the United States”, countries that participated or assisted in these operations also bore responsibility for the violations.
“International human rights law not only bars states from directly committing the violations associated with the extraordinary rendition and secret detention programmes, but also obligates them not to transfer individuals to states where they are at real risk of torture or to otherwise cooperate with or facilitate the commission of those violations,” the report says. The Zimbabwe Mail