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.