Human Rights Watch

April 2005 Vol. 17, No. 4(D)

Still at Risk:
Diplomatic Assurances No Safeguard Against Torture
Table of Cases................................................................................................................................ 1
Executive Summary ...................................................................................................................... 3
The Legal Prohibition against Returns to Risk of Torture and Ill-Treatment..................... 7
International Law...................................................................................................................... 7
U.N. Convention against Torture ...................................................................................... 8
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights...................................................... 9
1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.................................................... 10
International Humanitarian Law ...................................................................................... 11
Customary International Law ........................................................................................... 12
Regional Human Rights Law ................................................................................................ 14
European Convention on Human Rights....................................................................... 14
The Nexus between the Nonrefoulement Obligation and Diplomatic Assurances..... 15
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.................................................. 15
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture ............................................................................... 16
U.N. Independent Expert on the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism ................................................. 17
Diplomatic Assurances are No Safeguard against Torture................................................... 18
The Limits of Diplomacy ...................................................................................................... 19
Trusting States to Honor Unenforceable Assurances....................................................... 21
The Tacit Acceptance of Torture......................................................................................... 23
The Limits of Post-Return Monitoring ............................................................................... 24
False: Torture is Easy to Detect ....................................................................................... 24
False: Monitoring Provides an Accountability Mechanism.......................................... 26
The Principle: Diplomatic Assurances Undermine the Nonrefoulement Obligation.. 27
Developments Regarding Diplomatic Assurances Since April 2004 .................................. 28
North America ........................................................................................................................ 28
United States........................................................................................................................ 28
Case of Yemeni Detainees and Transfers from Guantánamo Bay......................... 30
Update: Case of Maher Arar......................................................................................... 33
Renditions and Assurances: U.S. Acknowledges “No Control” Post-Transfer ... 36
No Effective Opportunity to Challenge Reliability of Assurances......................... 38
Legislative Initiatives...................................................................................................... 40
9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act....................................................... 40
Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act: Markey Bill ............................................... 41
Convention against Torture Implementation Act 2005: Leahy Bill ................... 44
Case of Ashraf al-Jailani ................................................................................................ 45

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