122 | PRACTITIONERS GUIDE No. 6national security could not justify a more ready acceptance of a risk oftorture or inhuman or degrading treatment. 358f) Diplomatic assurancesA State will sometimes seem to circumvent its obligations of non-refoulementby the use of diplomatic assurances, through which the expellingState requests and receives written guarantees by the authoritiesof the destination State that the person to be sent will not besubject to certain practices. They range from simple undertakings bythe receiving State that the individual concerned will not be subjectedto torture or ill-treatment or to other violations of human rights, tomore elaborate agreements including arrangements for the monitoringof the transferred person in custody. Diplomatic assurances are oftenregarded as an acceptable means to avert a risk of imposition of thedeath penalty, where they are verifiable and provided by a reliable governmentauthority. However, such assurances are considerably moreproblematic where they are used to justify deportation or extraditionto countries where there is a risk of torture or other ill-treatment, giventhat torture is almost always an illicit and clandestine practice. Theefficacy of these assurances must also be called into question by thefact that they are never enforceable, as they do not typically have legaleffect and are not justiciable. They are normally sought from Stateswhich necessarily disregard even binding legal obligations to preventtorture and ill-treatment. 359Jurisprudence of the international human rights courts, treaty bodiesand expert mechanisms establishes that the existence of such assurancescannot bypass the non-refoulement principle and cannot au-358 Ibid., para.140. This was further underlined by the Court in subsequent cases includingIsmoilov and Others v. Russia, ECtHR, Application No. 2947/06, Judgment of 24 April 2008,para. 126; and Baysakov and Others v. Ukraine, ECtHR, Application No. 54131/08, Judgmentof 18 February 2010, para. 51; Auad v. Bulgaria, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 317, para. 101.359 See, Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Annual Report to the GeneralAssembly, UN Doc. A/60/316, 30 August 2005 (Nowak Report 2005); UN High Commissionerfor Human Rights, Louise Arbour, Statement to the Council of Europe’s Group of Expertson Human Rights and the Fight against Terrorism, 29–31 May 2006; EU Network ofIndependent Experts on Fundamental Rights, The Human Rights Responsibilities of the EUMember States in the Context of the CIA Activities in Europe (“Extraordinary Renditions”),Opinion No. 3-2006, Doc. No. CFR-CDF.Opinion3.2006, 25 May 2006; European Parliament,Resolution on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation andillegal detention of prisoners, 14 February 2007, Resolution no P6_TA (2007)0032; Opinion onthe International Legal Obligations of Council of Europe Member States in Respect of SecretDetention Facilities and Inter-State Transport of Prisoners, Council of Europe’s EuropeanCommission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), Opinion No. 363/2005, CoEDoc. CDL-AD(2006)009, 17 March 2006; Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,Thomas Hammarberg, Viewpoint: ‘The protection against torture must be strengthened’,18 February 2008; CPT, 15 th General Report, 22 September 2005, paras. 38-40.
MIGRATION AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW | 123tomatically permit a transfer which would otherwise be prohibited. 360Whether the assurances are effective and sufficient to permit a transferis to be assessed on the facts of each particular case. However,as the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly held, suchassurances are highly unlikely to be sufficient to allow a transfer tocountries where there are reliable reports that the authorities resortto or tolerate torture or other ill-treatment or when they are not givenby an authority of the destination State empowered to provide themand the destination State does not have an effective system of tortureprevention. 361In the case Othman (Abu Qatada) v. the United Kingdom, the EuropeanCourt of Human Rights for the first time provided precise indications asto the highly restrictive conditions that must be satisfied for the acceptanceof diplomatic assurances in cases of risk of torture or inhumanor degrading treatment or punishment. The Court clarified that, whenconsidering the reliability of diplomatic assurances, it “will assess first,the quality of assurances given and, second, whether, in light of the receivingState’s practices they can be relied upon. In doing so, the Courtwill have regard, inter alia, to the following factors:(i) whether the terms of the assurances have been disclosed to theCourt [. . .];(ii) whether the assurances are specific or are general and vague[. . .];(iii) who has given the assurances and whether that person can bindthe receiving State [. . .];360 Concluding Observations on France, CCPR, op. cit., fn. 188, para. 20; Concluding Observationson Russia, CCPR, UN Doc. CCPR/C/RUS/CO/6, 24 November 2009, para. 17. TheCommittee against Torture has categorically stated that “under no circumstances must diplomaticguarantees be used as a safeguard against torture or ill-treatment where there aresubstantial grounds for believing that a person would be in danger of being subjected to tortureor ill-treatment upon return”, Concluding Observations on Spain, CAT, op. cit., fn. 240,para. 13; Saadi v. Italy, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 309, paras.147–148; M.S.S. v. Belgium andGreece, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 324, paras. 353–354; Sidikovy v. Russia, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 356,para. 150.361 Saadi v. Italy, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 309, paras. 147–148; Ryabikin v. Russia, ECtHR, op. cit.,fn. 356, para. 119; Gafarov v. Russia, ECtHR, Application No. 25404/2009, Judgment of21 October 2010; Ben Khemais v. Italy, ECtHR, Application No. 246/07, Judgment of 24 February2009, para. 61; Ismoilov and Others v. Russia, ECTHR, op. cit., fn. 358, para. 127;Soldatenko v. Ukraine, ECtHR, Application No. 2440/07, Judgment of 23 October 2008,para. 74; Ryabikin v. Russia, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 356, para. 119; Makhmudzhan Ergashevv. Russia, ECtHR, Application No. 49747/11, 16 October 2012, paras. 74–76. However, theCourt specified in Othman (Abu Qatada) v. the United Kingdom, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 313,para. 193 that “the Court has never laid down an absolute rule that a State which does notcomply with multilateral obligations cannot be relied on to comply with bilateral assurances;the extent to which a State has failed to comply with its multilateral obligations is, atmost, a factor in determining whether its bilateral assurances are sufficient. Equally, thereis no prohibition on seeking assurances when there is a systematic problem of torture andill‐treatment in the receiving State.”