El-Masri v The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: ECHR 13 Dec 2012

(Grand Chamber) The applicant, a German national of Lebanese origin, alleged that he had been subjected to a secret rendition operation, namely that agents of the respondent State had arrested him, held him incommunicado, questioned and ill-treated him, and handed him over at Skopje Airport to CIA agents who had transferred him, on a special CIA-operated flight, to a CIA-run secret detention facility in Afghanistan, where he had been ill-treated for over four months. The applicant submitted in evidence certain diplomatic cables. The court referred to articles in which journalists had reported that the US Ambassador in Germany had informed the German authorities that the CIA had wrongly imprisoned the applicant. The 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations was cited under the heading ‘Relevant International Law and Other Public Material’, but only as to the obligation of competent authorities of the receiving state to inform the consular post of the sending state without delay of the arrest of one of its nationals under Article 36.
Held: The Court found Mr El-Masri’s account to be established beyond reasonable doubt and held that ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ had been responsible for his torture and ill-treatment both in the country itself and after his transfer to the US authorities in the context of an extra-judicial ‘rendition’.
The court was careful in its findings not to rely on the leaked cables or on what the US Ambassador was said to have said to the German Government.

Nicolas Bratza, P
39630/09 – HEJUD, [2012] ECHR 2067, 34 BHRC 313, (2013) 57 EHRR 25
European Convention on Human Rights
Human Rights
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Human Rights, International

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.467121