Implementation of Rendition Judgments of the ECtHR: Early Developments

The Committee of Ministers issued a decision in December 2018 following its first review of the implementation of the Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania judgment, which was finalised by the ECtHR in August 2018.

The Committee’s decision expressed “deep concern that the applicant has been detained without charge since 2002, stripped of any safeguards against arbitrary detention, and continues to be exposed to such detention in Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba which may continue for the rest of his life.” The decision called on the Lithuanian authorities to:

“use all possible means to urgently obtain diplomatic assurances from the United States authorities that an end will be put to the applicant’s continued arbitrary detention”

“urgently seek guarantees that the applicant is not subject to further inhuman treatment as criticised by the European Court”

As regards other individual measures, the decision “underlined that the Lithuanian authorities should take without delay the necessary steps to reactivate and advance the pending criminal investigation to elucidate further the circumstances and conditions under which the applicant was brought into Lithuania, treated there and subsequently removed from the State, so as to enable the identification and, where appropriate, punishment of those responsible.”

In 16 January 2018 Lithuania’s Justice Minister notified that Lithuania had paid the damages award into an account for our client, and announced that law enforcement had “re-qualified the alleged crime to avoid a statute of limitations, and turned to the United States, asking for diplomatic assurances.” It remains to be seen what concrete steps will be taken towards effective investigation and prosecution, as required by the Judgment. The next review of implementation, at which these questions should be asked, is in March 2019.