Council of Europe - “no excuses for torture“
Strasbourg, 11.10.2005 - "Torture is a very efficient way to obtain false

confessions", said Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

in a statement today.

"Torture is a full-frontal attack on truth, justice and human rights. It is

also a dangerous concession to terrorists, providing them with a pretext to

justify their crimes and find new recruits.

The prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment under the

European Convention on Human Rights is absolute and applies in all

circumstances. It is not negotiable. It includes an absolute ban on

transferring any person to another jurisdiction if there are substantial

grounds to believe that the person would face a real risk of being

subjected to such ill-treatment. This is the 'settled case-law' of the

European Court of Human Rights and a commonly agreed position of the

Governments of the Council of Europe, contained in the 2002 'Guidelines on

human rights and the fight against terrorism', which were unanimously

approved in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States.

It is wrong to suggest that this unequivocal legal and political position

has changed as a result of recent terrorist threats. There cannot be any

question of 'striking the right balance' when absolute rights are at stake.

The practice of seeking 'diplomatic assurances' from the countries of

destination that the persons concerned will not be ill-treated does not

mean that there is a loophole to be exploited by people looking for an

escape route from the absolute prohibition of torture. All European

Governments remain under an obligation to assess carefully, in advance and

in each individual case, the reliability of such assurances and to refrain

from deporting anyone who faces a real risk of being ill-treated.

European Governments should not condone torture in other parts of the

world. Information obtained under torture must never, under any

circumstances, be accepted as evidence in judicial proceedings, regardless

of where or by whom they were obtained.

The European Convention on Human Rights dates from a time when threats to

our freedom and security were different, but the threats were real. It is

an asset and not an obstacle in the fight against terrorism. Any suggestion

to change the Convention on this point endangers not only our rights, but

also our security," the Secretary General concluded.


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