28 March 2012
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On 28 April 2010, Amnesty International (AI) issued a public statement criticising the expulsion of Mustapha Labsi from Slovakia to Algeria on 19 April in spite of an order dated 13 August 2008 from the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) blocking it until all appeals on his asylum claim in Slovakia had been completed.
Slovakia's Constitutional Court had also ruled against his extradition in June 2008, on the grounds that this would violate his human rights and he was liable to be subjected to torture, after the Supreme Court had authorised the Algerian asylum seeker's forcible expulsion on national security grounds. The Supreme Court reconsidered its decision to allow Labsi's expulsion in August 2008 due to the risk of him suffering torture or other forms of ill-treatment, in spite of diplomatic assurances from Algeria. Labsi's asylum claim was rejected in October 2008, and then again on appeal in Bratislava regional court a year later, in October 2009. After fleeing to Austria from a refugee camp in December 2009, he was returned to Slovakia on 11 March 2010. After rejection of his final appeal on his asylum application by the Supreme Court on 30 March 2010, his lawyer Maria Kolikova was awaiting receipt of the ruling in writing to then write to the Constitutional Court for it to clarify his status, and the European Court on Human Rights informed her on 16 August that the interim measures were still in force until a last appeal was filed and ruled upon by the Constitutional Court.
However, Labsi's lawyer received the Supreme Court ruling on 16 August and her client was returned to Algeria on 19 August, without his lawyer, his family or the ECtHR being informed. Hence, they were unable to challenge the interior ministry's decision.
AI expressed its concern "about the Slovak government's disregard for international law", noting that the ministry justified its actions on national security grounds, adding that the penalty for contravening the ECtHR's order was only "a couple of thousand euros". Kolikova argued that "This justification amounts to incitement to a violation of a court's decision". Moreover, due to a lack of information about his whereabouts after the expulsion, AI expressed its concern that Labsi may have been held incommunicado in unofficial detention facilities by the Département du renseignement et de la sécurité (DRS, Department for Information and Security), that specialises in interrogating terrorist suspects. It also warns that "confessions" extracted through torture or under duress are sometimes accepted in Algerian courts, where terrorist suspects risk having death sentences imposed on them.
Non-compliance by EU member States in relation to ECtHR interim orders suspending expulsions decreed on "national security" grounds appears to be gaining ground. Italy was reprimanded in August 2009 for serial breaches of such orders in expelling suspects who had filed submissions before the ECtHR by Herta Däubler-Gmelin (Germany) and Christos Pourgourides (Cyprus), respectively the Chair of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Legal Affairs Committee and the rapporteur on the implementation of Strasbourg Court judgments. On 13 April 2010, the ECtHR found that Italy violated articles 3 -prohibition of torture- and 34 -obstructing the applicant's right to seek effective remedy through the ECtHR- of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to the expulsion of Mourad Trabelsi in these circumstances on 13 December 2008.
Amnesty International, "Slovakia: Expulsion of Mustapha Labsi Violated International Law", 28.4.2010, public statement 72/001/2010.
Previous Statewatch coverage:
Italy/Tunisia: ECtHR rules against Italy in Trabelsi expulsion case, Statewatch News Online, April 2010
Allowing someone to live or letting them die: Italy contravenes European Court of Human Rights instructions by deporting Tunisian, by Gabriella Petti, Statewatch News Online, December 2008 (includes relevant documentation on the case, including the Saadi vs. Italy decision):
Italy repeatedly ignores ECtHR orders to suspend expulsions to Tunisia, Statewatch news online, September 2009
"Ordinary rendition" in Tunisia and relations with Libya: the Italian government heaps shame and ridicule onto itself, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, 10 August 2009, Statewatch news online, September 2009 [translation]:
The original, 'Ordinary rendition' in Tunisia e rapporti con la Libia: il governo italiano si copre di vergogna e di ridicolo, (in Italian, from MeltingPot).
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