Hammamber: European states must respect Strasbourt Court’s order to halt deportations

Thomas Hammamberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has a comment on Rule 39 of the ECThR, which gives the Court the power to ask a state to suspend the deportation of a foreign national until the Court has examined the case.

Hammamberg, however, observes that “these decisions have not been respected in several crucial cases and individuals have been deported to countries where they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”

The Commissioner recalls that on 1 May 2010, the Italian authorities expelled Mr. Mannai, a Tunisian national, to his country of origin despite the earlier indication by the Court not to do so until further notice. Italy failed to comply with the interim measures in at least three other cases.

Rule 39 is vital for individual applicants. For those who might face a risk of violation of their human rights, the Court is often their ultimate hope to stop a forced return to a country where they could be exposed to treatment in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights – especially when there is no other remedy available at national level to suspend a deportation. Measures taken by the Court are legally binding. Failures to fully and effectively respect them have led to the expulsion of persons who have subsequently been imprisoned and even tortured, Hammamberg writes in the comment.

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