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SG/Inf (2006) 5 28 February 2006

Report by the Secretary General on the use of his powers under Article 52 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in the light of reports suggesting that individuals, notably persons suspected of involvement in acts of terrorism, may have been arrested and detained, or transported while deprived of their liberty, by or at the instigation of foreign agencies, with the active or passive co-operation of States Parties to the Convention or by States Parties themselves at their own initiative, without such deprivation of liberty having been acknowledged

This report may also be referred to as (short title):

Secretary General's report under Article 52 ECHR on the question of secret detention and transport of detainees suspected of terrorist acts, notably by or at the instigation of foreign agencies.


I. Introduction

1. Article 52 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter “European Convention on Human Rights”, “ECHR”, or “the Convention”) provides:

“On receipt of a request from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe any High Contracting Party shall furnish an explanation of the manner in which its internal law ensures the effective implementation of any of the provisions of the Convention.”

2. Until November 2005, this provision had been applied seven times (in 1964, 1970, 1975, 1983, 1988, 1999 and in 2002). The first five times, this provision was applied in respect of all States Parties to the ECHR. On the sixth and seventh occasions, it was applied in respect of a single State Party (Russian Federation in 1999 and Moldova in 2002).

3. On 21 November 2005, I availed myself of the powers conferred on me by Article 52 and addressed a letter to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of all States Parties, requesting the Governments to furnish explanations on certain questions by 21 February 2006. The letter of 21 November is appended to this report (Appendix I). The same letter was sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Monaco on 14 December 2005 , following the entry into force of the Convention as regards this State on 30 November 2005 .

4. By noon on 22 February, the replies of 41 States Parties had been received. The rest was received by 24 February. This report is based on 45 of the 46 replies received (as regards Albania, see paragraph 17 below).

5. The replies as received from the States Parties are contained in a separate Addendum to this report which will be shortly made available in electronic form on the Council of Europe website.

6. Several States (notably Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland) have expressly indicated in their replies that they welcome this inquiry under Article 52 of the Convention or stated the importance they attach to it or more generally to the efforts of the Council of Europe to ensure that the fight against terrorism is conducted with full respect for human rights. Although some criticism was expressed in two replies (Bulgaria and Spain ) as regards the appropriateness of the fourth question in my request, the governments concerned did provide information on that point.

7. The structure of the present report is as follows: Section II recalls the background to my request for explanations, Section III describes the scope of my request and assesses whether States Parties have complied with their obligations under Article 52 of the Convention, Section IV gives the main results from the analysis of the explanations received, and Section V sets out my overall conclusions at this stage.



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