The r-word

The word “rendition” was thrown around a bit yesterday during Question Period, directly as a result of Friday night’s report from CBC. This is both a phrase loaded with implication and the title of a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.

For a more scholarly perspective, there is this paper, prepared by the Library of Parliament. “Extraordinary rendition” is defined there as follows.

States dealing with individuals suspected of terrorist or other criminal activities and that wish to transfer the suspect from one state to another for arrest, detention, or interrogation generally have two broad possibilities available to them: extradition and rendition. Extradition is the technique more commonly used, in which a state surrenders a person within its jurisdiction to another state through a formal legal process outlined in legislation and an extradition treaty.

However, transfers of suspects from one state to another may sometimes take place “extrajudicially” – outside the law. This process is known as “rendition” and generally implies that transferred suspects have no access to the judicial system of the sending state to challenge their transfer. Since 11 September 2001, particular controversy has arisen over allegations of renditions carried out in order that harsh interrogation techniques (torture) prohibited under the sending country’s laws may be applied to the suspect in another country where the laws are less strict.(1) Such transfers are known as “extraordinary renditions.”(2)