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Following the declaration of the ‘war on terror’ in September 2001, the US Government led the way in constructing a global system of detention outside the law, illegal prisoner transfers (rendition), and torture. Overall, this system has involved the detention and torture, in secret, of hundreds of detainees, in scores of detention sites around the world. Renditions between detention sites in a range of countries have been carried out using a variety of aircraft supplied by private contractors, and states allied to the US (including several European states) have been actively involved, or passively complicit, in the crimes committed.
This website aims to bring together and analyse the huge amount of data that exists about the rendition and secret detention programme, and to provide users with a comprehensive picture of how the system operated, how it evolved over time, and what happened to those subjected to years of illegal detention and torture. The Guardian has described the site as a 'groundbreaking research project which sheds unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years'.
Working closely with Reprieve, a legal action charity which has led the way in investigating secret prisons and representing victims of rendition and torture, it also aims to provide investigators with new tools in the continuing efforts to uncover where people were held, how they were treated, and who was responsible for the human rights abuses they suffered.
Using the menu structure at top of each page, it is possible to:
- Explore the issues at stake: learn what rendition and secret detention are, and how they violate international human rights law;
- Read first-hand accounts of being subjected to CIA rendition;
- View key moments in the creation and evolution of the global system of rendition and secret detention;
- Search the Rendition Flights Database and interactive map (the world's largest compilation of public flight data relating to the rendition programme, providing new insights into the movement of CIA-linked aircraft after 9/11);
- Navigate through the global rendition system, using our extensive and integrated profiles on detainees, aicraft and rendition flights, supported by a huge repository of primary documents which evidence each case;
- Access our large collection of documents, including government memos, court papers, flight data and past investigative reports.
Our work has been funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and is accredited under the Global Uncertainties programme. We are also indebted to the team of research assistants who worked on the project throughout 2011-2012, as well as to those other organisations and individuals that have led the way in investigating rendition, representing detainees, and informing the public.