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The Risk of Torture as a Basis for Refusing Extradition and the Use of Diplomatic Assurances to Protect against Torture after 9/11

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Diplomatic assurances have become increasingly common since 9/11 as conditions of removing suspected terrorists to other countries, including through the process of extradition, in response to claims that these individuals will be tortured following their return. Assurances have sometimes been relied upon by states to justify the removal of persons to countries where these individuals have been tortured despite the existence of assurances. Focusing on the extradition context, this article will explore the debate surrounding the use of diplomatic assurances to protect against torture. The article will demonstrate that the use of assurances to address a risk of torture is permissible under international law. With a view to strengthening human rights protection, the article will propose the establishment of minimum standards for the use of assurances and common criteria to be applied in assessing whether assurances can be viewed as sufficiently reliable in protecting against a risk of torture.

Affiliations: 1: Criminal Law Section, Litigation Branch, Department of Justice, Canada


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