Geneva: UN human rights experts warned in a report on Wednesday that "widespread and systematic" secret detention of terror suspects was continuing and could pave the way for charges of crimes against humanity.
The report listed 66 countries that have allegedly been involved in secret detentions -- from Ethiopia to Romania, from Kosovo to Pakistan -- and called on governments to investigate and prosecute those who ordered such detentions.
In their first in-depth global study on secret detentions, the UN experts said that virtually no judicial steps had been attempted against the practice despite the "widespread" manner in which suspects were held in a legal limbo.
"Secret detention continues to be used in the name of countering terrorism around the world" in spite of international human rights norms, said the study, which is due to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
"If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity," the authors cautioned.
The "global war on terror”, which was launched by US president George W Bush`s administration after the September 11 attacks, had "reinvigorated" the use of secret detentions in an organised manner, they said.
The campaign saw the creation of "a comprehensive and coordinated system of secret detention of persons suspected of terrorism, involving not only US authorities, but also other states in almost all regions of the world."