Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency embarked on a highly classified program of secret detention and extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. The program was designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of law. Suspected terrorists were seized and secretly flown across national borders to be interrogated by foreign governments that used torture, or by the CIA itself in clandestine “black sites” using torture techniques.
A New York-based human rights organization The Open Society Justice Initiative said in a new report “Globalizing Torture”, that Sri Lanka (Page 109) was among 54 countries that have either hosted secret prisons or helped in the transport or torture of terrorist suspects as part of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) rendition and black site torture programme.
The Open Society Justice Initiative said the Sri Lankan government in 2003 permitted the use of its airspace and airports for flights associated with CIA extraordinary rendition operations. It details for the first time what was done to the 136 known victims, and lists the 54 foreign governments that participated in these operations.
“By engaging in torture and other abuses associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, the US government violated domestic and international law, thereby diminishing its moral standing and eroding support for its counterterrorism efforts worldwide as these abuses came to light,” the report said.
|Sri Lanka permitted use of its airspace and airports for ﬂights associated with CIA extraordinary rendition operations.
Court documents indicate that at least one ﬂight operated by Richmor Aviation(a company that operated ﬂights for the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program)1472landed in Sri Lanka in 2003.1473 The documents show that between August 12 and 15, 2003, a Richmor ﬂight registered as N85VM took off from Washington, D.C., and stopped in Bangkok before making another stop at Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike international airport in Colombo, and then ﬂying on to Kabul, Dubai, and Shannon airport in Ireland.1474 That ﬂight coincided in time with the capture of Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali) in Bangkok in 2003.1475 Isamuddin spent the next three years insecret CIA prisons1476 before ultimately being transferred as a “high value detainee” to Guantánamo Bay in September 2006, where he remains detained.1477 See the detainee list in Section IV.
There have been no known judicial cases or investigations in Sri Lanka relating to its participation in CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations.