Thursday 23 October 2008

Moratorium on Extraditions to Turkmenistan

Today the Court established a de facto moratorium on extraditions from ECHR state parties to Turkmenistan. In its judgment in the case of Soldatenko v. Ukraine, the Court found that the extradition of the applicant from Ukraine to his own country would violate Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of inhuman or degradign treatment). Nikolay Ivanovich Soldatenko left Turkmenistan in 1999 a few months after an indictment was issued against him for inflicting bodily harm. In 2007 he was arrested by Ukraine on the basis of Turkmenistan's request for extradition. Soldatenko applied for and got an interim measure from the European Court not to be extradited pending the procedure in Strasbourg.

What is really remarkable in today's judgment is that the Court found that in general the detention conditions in Turkmenistan at this moment are so bad and the occurence of torturing of suspects to extract confessions so widespread that extradition of a suspect to that country would violate Article 3 ECHR. One may note that this is irrespective of the (ethnic) status of the applicant or the kind of crime with which he is charged. This amounts to a moratorium, at least for the time being, of extraditions to the central Asian republic! The Court based itself on reports of the United Nations, the United States State Department, the Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch of 2006 and 2007. Given this wide basis of information on which the Court built its judgment it is unlikely that this moratorium will be lifted any time soon, unless the situation in Turkmenistan drastically improves.