Document - United Kingdom: European Court of Human Rights: Major decision on deportation to torture




Index: EUR 45/002/2012

16 January 2012

European Court of Human Rights: Major Decision on Deportation to Torture

The European Court of Human Rights will announce on 17 January 2012 its decision regarding whether a Jordanian national should be deported from the UK to Jordan in reliance on “diplomatic assurances” from the Jordanian authorities that he would be treated humanely, despite documented evidence that he would be at risk of torture.

The applicant, Omar Othman, also known as Abu Qatada, a recognized refugee in the UK since 1994, was convicted in absentia in two separate trials in 1999 and 2000 in Jordan of terrorism-related offenses, and sentenced to life in prison and 15 years respectively. Torture in detention in remains a serious problem in Jordan.

Omar Othman argued that if deported to Jordan, he will be at real risk of being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment and that his right to a fair trial will be violated, despite assurances from the Jordanian authorities.

In October 2009, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and JUSTICE submitted a joint intervention to the European Court raising concerns about the practice of relying on diplomatic assurances to justify the transfer of individuals to countries where they would face a real risk of being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

The groups have argued that such assurances do not provide an effective safeguard against ill-treatment. The intervention also addressed the use of secret evidence in national security deportation proceedings and the continuing risk of torture and ill-treatment in Jordan.

The following spokespeople from each organization are available for media interviews regarding the Othman judgment:

Julia Hall, Expert on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights for Amnesty International, who has written five reports on diplomatic assurances against torture and has served as an expert in the Omar Othman case in UK proceedings. Contact: Lydia Aroyo, Press Officer, +44 (0) 207 413 5599; +44 (0) 7771 796 350 (mobile) or email:

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, which has campaigned on the Omar Othman case and against the use of diplomatic assurances against torture for over seven years. Contact: Neil Durkin, Press Officer, +44 (0) 207 033 1547; +44 (0) 7721 398 984 or email:

Benjamin Ward, Deputy Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch, which has produced a number of reports on diplomatic assurances against torture, including on the Othman case, and on the use of torture and other ill-treatment by the Jordanian government. Contact: +44 (0) 7968 837 172 or

Christoph Wilcke, Senior Researcher on Jordan at Human Rights Watch. Contact: +49 89 13926193 or

Angela Patrick, Director of Human Rights Policy at JUSTICE, who was the assistant legal adviser to the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights from 2006 to 2011. JUSTICE has issued reports about the issue of secrecy in national security deportations and on diplomatic assurances against torture. Contact: +44 (0)207 762 6415 or

Roger Smith, Director of JUSTICE, a solicitor who has been the director of JUSTICE since 2001. Contact: +44 (0) 207 3295 100.

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