Johannesburg – In the wake of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s role in torture, CAGE Africa insists that South Africa’s role in facilitating renditions and torture must see full accountability under international law.

The US Senate’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme under former US president George W Bush has revealed that, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the CIA offered “lump sum payments” to foreign countries to encourage their “willingness” to house secret detention centres or ‘black sites’.

The UK-based Guardian newspaper published a map in 2009 based on research by the international human rights organization Reprieve that showed the CIA had two black sites in South Africa.
Twenty-eight nations have cooperated with the U.S. by hosting black sites, which can be anything from prisons to public ministry buildings, to “safe houses” in urban areas.

Brian Dube, spokesperson for South Africa’s State Security department has stated: “We work with our partners and counterparts to share information. It is important – we can’t work in isolation. But it is difficult to say, with our line of work, exactly what we do.”

“This is a clear dodging of accountability that is unacceptable in our present democracy,” said CAGE Africa spokesperson Shabnam Mayet. “Assisting another state to carry out torture is a far cry from ‘information sharing’. Participating in an international web of torture and detention-without-trial is a betrayal of our history.”

Despite the fact that the six hundred page summary of the six thousand page report has redacted – or blanked out – the names of the countries involved, South Africa has already been implicated in a previous report by the New York based Open Source Foundation which found that 136 people went through the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition program and 54 countries were complicit therein.

The report details South Africa’s complicity in the enforced disappearances of two Pakistani nationals, Saud Memon and Khalid Rashid, in 2003 and 2005.
While Memon died shortly after being released in Pakistan, Rashid was kidnapped from his home in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal in 2005 and flown out of Air Force Base Waterkloof, Pretoria, on a private plane with the full knowledge of the South African security cluster.
According to his lawyer, Zehir Omar, he was apparently held in Kenya for five months before being flown to Pakistan, where he was later released.

“At the time, the South African minister of home affairs claimed that Rashid was arrested and deported because he resided in the country illegally, thus shifting the spotlight of the case to issues of immigration, as opposed to the issue of extraordinary rendition,” said Mayet. “Four years later, the Supreme Court of Appeal found that his deportation was unlawful, making it apparent that the illegal immigration ploy was an excuse to rendition Rashid.
It is time for those in power be held accountable before the International Criminal Court.”

CAGE Africa has the following concerns in the wake of the CIA terror report:

“Both Memon and Rashid have not been charged with any crime and have had no fair trial under a court of law. Both of them deserve a full hearing and the right to defend themselves, under international law.”

“Where are these black sites in South Africa? Are these sites still in operation? Who gave the green light? These are all questions that must be answered if we are to ensure that these sites are closed and South Africans are safe in accordance with international human rights law.”

“Allowing this network of secret detention centres and criminal acts of unlawful arrest and torture go unchecked and its pundits walk away unaccountable, sets a dangerous precedent for human rights.”

“It would serve us well to remember that just over a decade ago many of our freedom fighters had been labelled ‘terrorists’ and banned by the very nation that post-9/11 saw it fit to begin wars based on confessions received under torture.”

“One of the most poignant conclusions to be drawn from the report to date is that not a single case of torture has led to a confession which offered the agency evidence that could have saved any lives.”

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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)