ICCT: Expert Meeting: “The Use of Diplomatic Assurances in Terrorism-related Cases: In Search of a Balance Between Security Concerns and Human Rights Obligations”

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm

The decisions and views of the European Court (Saadi v. Italy), the Human Rights Committee (Alzery v. Sweden) and the Torture Committee (Agiza v. Sweden),  have drastically confined the circumstances in which the use of diplomatic assurances can meet the obligations under the ‘non-refoulment’ principle inherit in the prohibition against torture or CID.  Though these treaty-bodies have not rejected their use outright, in practice State’s have to meet  a considerably stringent standard in order to rely on them.

Recently the International Centre for Counter-terrorism- Hague (ICCT) held a expert meeting where State delegations and members of human rights organizations discussed the effectiveness of diplomatic assurances “in ensuring that individuals do not suffer torture or other forms of inhumane treatment.”

For the meeting the ICCT prepared a discussion document which can be found here.

The discussion paper prepared by the UK delegation is also available online.

The ICCT has also published an online news release that summarized the discussions at the meeting.

More on the event once i have a chance to look over the material. In the meantime i have pasted the summary of the conclusions and policy recommendations below:

  1. DAs should only be used reluctantly because of all the risks. Each case should be assessed on its own merits, and general policies in that respect should be avoided.
  2. To avoid impunity, other measures should be improved in order to avoid the need for DAs. Investing in capacity building in the receiving states to improve the circumstances of detention, and to reform the judicial system are considered more sustainable solutions to the problem.
  3. Stronger collaboration between national governments and NGOs. Currently, both sides tend to operate separately, and more collective efforts could be made between the two.
  4. A stronger role for the European Union in terms of capacity building. Whereas the European Court of Human Rights is heavily involved in cases of DAs, EU bodies have generally remained in the periphery. The outcome of the Othman case currently before the ECHR was awaited, which would clarify further the interpretation of the non-refoulement principle under the European Convention for Human Rights.
  5. Enforcement mechanisms for DAs should continue to be developed and strengthened. All sides seemed to agree that more could be done to ensure that countries comply with DAs.
  6. The non-refoulement and Chahal principles should not be scaled down on any level, and ensuring that they are preserved and reinforced should continue to be a top priority for all parties involved.


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