Wednesday, 5 March 2008

New judgments

Some important new judgments have been issued in the past week.
The European Court of Human Rights delivered a ruling in a case involving transfer (refoulement) of an alleged terrorist from Italy to Tunisia (Saadi v. Italy, The United Kingdom had intervened asking the Court to revisit its ruling of more than a decade ago in Chahal. According to Chahal, there can be no exception to the prohibition of sending an individual to a country where he or she would be subject to torture. The United Kingdom hoped the Court might temper its words, given the post 9/11 context, but last week’s decision confirmed that there are no exceptions to the rule. This was a unanimous judgment of a Grand Chamber of the Court. In international human rights law, it doesn't get any stronger.
Also of interest is the brief discussion of diplomatic assurances, because the Court seems to think they may be relevant in assessing the risk of torture. Others, such as the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have considered diplomatic assurances that a person will not be tortured to be worthless. I did a paper on the subject a little more than a year ago for a seminar organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (
The Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued its judgment in the case of three leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council yesterday. The judgment overturns a Trial Chamber finding that refused to treat ‘forced marriage’ as a distinct form of crimes against humanity. See:

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