Poland: Court awards €230,000 in CIA secret rendition and ‘torture’ judgement

Human rights judges today declared that Poland cooperated in the “preparation and execution of the CIA rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations” of two terrorism suspects.

They awarded €230,000 to the two men who brought the human rights complaint to Strasbourg.

The cases Al Nashiri v. Poland (application no. 28761/11) and Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland (no. 7511/13) concerned allegations of torture, ill-treatment and secret detention of two men suspected of terrorist acts. The applicants allege that they were held at a CIA “black site” in Poland.

In today’s Chamber judgments, which are not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously: in both cases, that Poland had failed to comply with its obligation under Article 38 of the European Convention on Human Rights (obligation to furnish all necessary facilities for the effective conduct of an investigation);

in both cases, that there had been:

a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the Convention, in both its substantive and procedural aspects; a violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security);

a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life);
a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy); and,
a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial).

As regards Al Nashiri, the Court further held that there had been a violation of Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 of the Convention taken together with Article 1 of Protocol No. 6 (abolition of the death penalty).

Just satisfaction (Article 41)

The court held that Poland was to pay each applicant 100,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage. In the case of Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) it also awarded the applicant EUR 30,000 in respect of costs and expenses. No claim for costs and expenses was made in the case of Al Nashiri.

Individual measures in Al Nashiri (Article 46 – execution of judgments)

The court decided that Poland, in order to comply with its obligations under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 6 to the Convention, was required to seek to remove, as soon as possible, the risk that Al Nashiri could be subjected to the death penalty by seeking assurances from the US authorities that such penalty would not be imposed on him.

Having regard to the evidence before it, the court came to the conclusion that the applicants’ allegations that they had been detained in Poland were sufficiently convincing. The court found that Poland had cooperated in the preparation and execution of the CIA rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations on its territory and it ought to have known that by enabling the CIA to detain the applicants on its territory, it was exposing them to a serious risk of treatment contrary to the convention.

More information

The Essential

News: Anne Brasseur – “Truth’s onward march

News: Khaled El-Masri – Macedonian government responsible for torture, ill-treatment and secret rendition

Opinion: Europe must come clean on secret detention and torture of terrorist suspects

Timeline: Council of Europe and secret rendition

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