Council of Europe Committee of Ministers issues Interim Resolution on Garabayev group v Russia and a Decision on Othman (Abu Qatada) v the UK

Friday, October 18, 2013

The supervised judgments last week (from 24-26 September) included a set of cases collectively known as 'the Garabayev group', named after the first judgment, Garabayev v Russia (no. 38411/02). The Committee issued an Interim Resolution criticising the failure of Russia to implement reforms required by the group of cases. All of the cases concern attempts by persons seeking asylum in Russia to halt their requested extradition or expulsion to States where they would face a real risk of torture and ill-treatment, such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Belarus. In each final judgment, the Court has declared that the expulsion or extradition of the applicant would violate their rights under Article 3 ECHR (prevention of torture and degrading treatment). In each case still pending, the Court has issued a Rule 39 interim measure prohibiting the removal of the applicant. The Committee of Ministers is deeply concerned that, despite Russia responding by officially halting removal, many applicants have been abducted and irregularly transferred to states where they face a risk of torture. The sheer number of victims of kidnapping is described in the Interim Resolution as ‘an alarming and unprecedented situation’. The Committee stresses that ‘this situation has the most serious implications for the Russian domestic legal order, the effectiveness of the Convention system and the authority of the Court’, and calls upon the Russian authorities 'to adopt as a matter of urgency special protective measures for applicants exposed to a risk of kidnapping and irregular transfer'.

The Deputies of the Committee have decided to close the examination of Othman (Abu Qatada) v the United Kingdom (no. 8139/09) on the basis of the UK authorities’ indications both that the applicant made clear statements that his return to Jordan was voluntary and that the effect of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the UK and Jordan is to eliminate the risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used in any criminal proceedings against him in Jordan. The Treaty does so by imposing a burden on the Jordanian prosecutor to prove to a high standard that statements used at trial were not obtained by torture or ill-treatment. The Deputies nevertheless regret that the Committee 'was not informed of the developments in the case until after the applicant’s deportation had already taken place'.

Read the full list of the Committee's decisions and resolutions, the Garabayev Interim Resolution, and the Othman Decision.

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Council of Europe
Committee of Ministers