Torture through rendition in Europe: A past that will not pass away

Published date01 May 2018
Date01 May 2018
Torture through rendition in Europe: A past that
will not pass away
But then I went off in a different direction for, at a certain point, the story began to unroll in an entirely
imaginary country; a country where ideas no longer circulate, where principlesstill proclaimed, still
acclaimedare made a daily mockery, where ideologies are reduced to policies in name only, in a party
politics game in which only power for the sake of power counts. I repeat: an imaginary country.
Leonardo Sciascia, Equal Danger, translation by Adrienne Foulke
The European Court of Human Rights (hereafter, ECtHR) has recently produced two fundamental rulings in two cases
concerning the spider web woven across the globe by the CIA to move alleged terrorists to places where they could
be the object of torture and cruel and inhumane treatment with impunity. In Al Nashiri v. Romania
and Abu
Zoubaydah v. Lithuania,
the Court established that the plaintiffs had been illegally detained and tortured in the
territory of two Member States of the European Union, and that Romania and Lithuania were directly responsible
for the violation of several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.
These are not the first instances in which the Strasbourg Court has been confronted with the socalled war on
terror. In 2013, the ECHR condemned Macedonia for a similar set of facts,
while in 2014 the condemned state was
Poland (twice).
Previous inquiries by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
and by the European
were partially relied upon by the ECtHR when establishing the facts in all five cases.
The gravity of
the breaches of fundamental rights remains in striking contrast with the far and far between institutional initiatives,
at both the national and the supranational level, to throw light on what constitutes a systematic and frontalattack on
the rule of law. It will suffice to consider the Italian case. On February 17th, 2003, Milan's Imam, Abu Omar, was
Al Nashiri v. Romania, 31 May 2018, ECLI:CE:ECHR:2018:0531JUD003323412.
Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania, 31 May 2018, ECLI:CE:ECHR:2018:0531JUD004645411.
Application 39630/09, El Masri v. Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 13 December 2012, available at
Application 28761/11, Al Nashiri v. Poland, 24 July 2014, available at; Application 7511/13, Abu
Zubaydah v. Poland, 24 July 2014, available at
Cf. Alleged Secret Detentions and Unlawful InterState Transfers of Detainees Involving Council of Europe Member States, Doc
10957, 12 June 2006, available at; Secret Detentions and Illegal Transfers of Detainees Involving
Council of Europe Member States: Second Report, Doc. 11302 rev., 11 June 2007, available at and
(pdf) at; Abuse of State Secrecy and National Security: Obstacles to Parliamentary and Judicial Scru-
tiny of Human Rights Violations, Doc 12714, 16 September 2011,
Report on the Alleged Use of European Countries by the CIA for the Transportation and Illegal Detention of Prisoners,30 January
2007, available at See also C. Fava, Quei Bravi Ragazzi (Sperling and Kupfer, 2006).
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Pro-
gram,13 December 2012, availableat; see also Open Society, Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Deten-
tion and Extraordinary Rendition, 2013, available at
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12286
118 © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Eur Law J. 2018;

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