Extraordinary rendition or irregular rendition is the apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one country to another.
The term "torture by proxy" is used by some critics to describe situations in which the U.S. has purportedly transferred suspected terrorists to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques that may rise to the level of torture. It has been alleged that torture has been employed with the knowledge or acquiescence of the United States (a transfer of anyone to anywhere for the purpose of torture is a violation of US law), although Condoleezza Rice (then the United States Secretary of State) stated that:
“the United States has not transported anyone, and will not transport anyone, to a country when we believe he will be tortured. Where appropriate, the United States seeks assurances that transferred persons will not be tortured."
The United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) runs a global apprehension and incarceration operation of suspected terrorists, known as “extraordinary rendition”, which from 2001 to 2005 captured an estimated 150 people and transported them around the world. While the Obama administration has tried to distance itself from some of the harshest counterterrorism techniques, it has also said that at least some forms of renditions will continue. Currently the administration continues to allow rendition only "to a country with jurisdiction over that individual (for prosecution of that individual)" when there is a diplomatic assurance "that they will not be treated inhumanely." Prior to the Obama administration, rendered persons were reported to have undergone torture by the receiving countries, and it has been alleged that this occurred with the knowledge or cooperation of the administrations of the United States and the United Kingdom.
The US program prompted several official investigations in Europe into alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states. A June 2006 report from the Council of Europe estimated 100 people had been kidnapped by the CIA on EU territory (with the cooperation of Council of Europe members), and rendered to other countries, often after having transited through secret detention centers ("black sites") used by the CIA, some located in Europe. According to the separate European Parliament report of February 2007, the CIA has conducted 1,245 flights, many of them to destinations where suspects could face torture, in violation of article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. A large majority of the European Union Parliament endorsed the report's conclusion that many member states tolerated illegal actions by the CIA and criticized several European governments and intelligence agencies for their unwillingness to cooperate with the investigation. Within days of his inauguration, President Obama signed an Executive Order opposing rendition torture and established a task force to provide recommendations about processes to prevent rendition torture.