(Strasbourg, February 28, 2008) – The European Court of Human Rights today reaffirmed that the ban on deporting people to countries where they are at risk of torture or ill-treatment is absolute and unconditional. The judgment in Saadi v. Italy is being hailed as a major reassertion of the importance of the rule of law by 11 international human rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the AIRE Centre, Human Rights Watch, INTERIGHTS, the International Commission of Jurists, JUSTICE, the Medical Foundation for the Care of the Victims of Torture, Open Society Justice Initiative, REDRESS, and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT).
Today the European Court was resolute in upholding the approach established by its earlier decisions and followed by other international courts and bodies. The judgment reaffirmed that the transfer of individuals to countries where they face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment is prohibited absolutely, and that the law cannot allow for exceptions. The court recognized that "States face immense difficulties in modern times in protecting their communities from terrorist violence. It cannot therefore underestimate the scale of the danger of terrorism today and the threat it presents to the community. That must not, however, call into question the absolute nature of Article 3 [of the European Convention, prohibiting torture and other ill-treatment]."
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