Husayn v. Poland

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: State/Non-State Agents | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Extraterritorial Jurisdiction | Reparations | Deprivation of Liberty | Burden of Proof | Evidence | Judicial Protection | Systemic Practice

Themes: Related Crimes | Persons and Groups Affected | Prevention

The Court was satisfied that the State knew of the nature and purposes of the CIA’s activities on its territory and that, by enabling the CIA to use its airspace and the airport, by its complicity in disguising the movements of aircrafts, and by its provision of logistics and services, it cooperated in the preparation and execution of the CIA operations on its territory. It further held that the State ought to have known that, by enabling the CIA to detain terrorist suspects on its territory, it was exposing them to a serious risk of treatment contrary to the Convention. In line with its previous case law, the Court made a finding of torture and ill-treatment of the victim both with respect to his detention on State territory and on account of the fact that his transfer exposed him to a foreseeable serious risk of further violation. It also found a violation of the victim's right to liberty and security in respect of both his detention on State territory and his subsequent transfer, observing that secret detention of terrorist suspects was a fundamental feature of the CIA rendition programme whose rationale was specifically to remove those persons from any legal protection against torture and enforced disappearance and to strip them of any safeguards against arbitrary detention.

Judgment Date

February 16, 2015

Country

Poland

Judicial Body

European Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 3 [ECHR], Article 5 [ECHR], Article 6(1) [ECHR], Article 8 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR], Article 38 [ECHR]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, a stateless Palestinian considered by the United States as one of the key Al’Qaeda members, was abducted in Pakistan in March 2002 by agents of the United States and Pakistan and taken into the custody of the CIA. For more than four years Mr. Husayn was held in incommunicado detention in secret detention facilities run by the CIA around the world. In December 2002, he was transferred to a military airbase in Poland on a CIA contracted aircraft. He was taken to a van provided by the Polish authorities and driven to the Polish intelligence’s training base. No official records of the Polish Border Guard disclosed his presence on Polish territory. During his detention Mr. Husayn was subjected to various forms of ill-treatment and abuse, and held incommunicado in solitary confinement. In September 2003, he was transferred by means of extraordinary rendition on an airplane registered with the US Federal Aviation Authority to a number of other CIA secret detention facilities around the world until September 2006, when he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay and held there in extreme conditions of detention. He was not charged with any criminal offence. At the time of the application, Mr. Husayn was still detained in the Internment Facility at the United States Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. In March 2008, a criminal investigation against persons unknown concerning secret CIA prisons in Poland was opened and still pending at the time of the application.

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