According to a joint study conducted by four independent UN investigating groups, dozens of countries have illegally used secret detention facilities in their counter-terrorism efforts.

The study was conducted through a questionnaire completed in 44 countries, as well as through interviews with former detainees, their family members and lawyers who were victims of secret detentions, and in many cases may also have been subjected to torture. The study is particularly critical of actions that were taken by the United States government since it began its "War on Terror" in 2001.

The report also acknowledged that detainees are being secretly held in Algeria, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Russia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

The report says: "International law clearly prohibits secret detentions, which violates a number of human rights and humanitarian law norms that may not be derogated from under any circumstances. If secret detention constitutes enforced norms that may not be derogated from under any circumstances. If secret detention constitutes enforced disappearances and is widely or systematically practiced, it may even amount to a crime against humanity.

However…. secret detention continues to be used in the name of countering terrorism around the world. The evidence gathered by the four experts for the present study clearly shows that many states, referring to concerns relating to national security often perceived or presented as unprecedented emergencies or threats, resort to secret detention."

The study will be forwarded to the UN Human Rights Council in March and will contain many recommendations, including making secret and unofficial detention strictly prohibited. The recommendations in the report cover both law and practice, and are designed to improve transparency and accountability, as well as to provide judicial remedies, reparations and rehabilitation to victims, and in some cases to their families.

In January 2007, the United Kingdom admitted knowledge of the CIA prison network. The United States has come under fire for alleged use of secret detention facilities operated by the CIA.

In December 2009, subsequent to the resignation of their foreign minister, a Lithuanian parliamentary committee confirmed that the CIA had established two secret prisons in their country.

In June 2006, the Council of Europe released a report that 14 European countries collaborated with the CIA by taking an active or passive role in a "global spider's web" of secret prisons and rendition flights. The existence of CIA prisons was brought first to light in November 2005.

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