University of Sussex

File(s) under permanent embargo

European Court of Human Rights: an absolute ban on deportation to countries where torture or ill-treatment is a genuine risk

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 22:45 authored by Gianluca GentiliGianluca Gentili
In Saadi v. Italy, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously reaffirmed the absolute character of the prohibition of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment provided by article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In the case at issue, the ECtHR held that the decision of the Italian government to deport a suspected terrorist to Tunisia — where he would have faced a “real risk” of torture — would have resulted in a violation of article 3 ECHR. This note presents the facts surrounding the case and analyzes the main issues addressed by the decision, with reference to the arguments presented by the parties and interveners before the Court. Despite the express prohibition in article 15(2) of the ECHR of any derogation to article 3, the Court’s decision is, nonetheless, of major importance in light of the claims advanced by several states since September 2001 that, in the effort to provide a more secure environment for citizens and to fight international terrorism, the protection of some fundamental rights should be balanced against national security concerns. The Court rejected these claims and strongly reaffirmed the principle that no circumstance, including the threat of terrorism, can justify exposing an individual to the risk of serious human rights mistreatments. The principles reaffirmed in Saadi have recently found application in Ben Khemais v. Italy, where the ECtHR addressed in further detail the persuasiveness of diplomatic assurances when ascertaining whether there is a real risk of ill-treatment in the receiving country.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version


International Journal of Constitutional Law




Oxford University Press





Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Law Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected