Switzerland: victims of torture abroad should have their day in court, argue ICJ and AI before European Court of Human Rights

Europe and Central Asia
Document Type: Legal Submission
Date: 2017

The ICJ and Amnesty International intervened before the European Court of Human Rights to promote access to justice in Switzerland for a victim of torture at the hands of the former Tunisian Government.

Abdennacer Naït-Liman, a Tunisian national, claims to have been tortured at the hands of officers of the former Tunisian regime. Years after having obtained refugee status in Switzerland, he sought criminal prosecution of one of the perpetrators when this last arrived to Geneva for medical treatment. While his arrest and the consequent criminal prosecution had not been possible, Mr Naït-Liman has sought to introduce a civil action for damages for the violation of his human rights. Swiss courts have dismissed this action on jurisdictional ground and he challenged this situation before the European Court of Human Rights.

In their intervention, the International Commission of Jurists and Amnesty International have provided the Court with observations concerning a range of issues, including:

  • The international legal framework pertaining to the issue of universal civil jurisdiction relevant to the interpretation of article 6 ECHR, in particular the States’ obligation under Article 14(1) of the Convention against Torture to provide procedures permitting any victim to obtain reparation for torture committed abroad;
  • Forum necessitates (forum of necessity) allowing courts to have jurisdiction over civil matters as a means to prevent a denial of justice; and
  • The right to reparation for individuals in international human rights law with regard to the content of the obligation to provide reparation.

Switzerland-icj&ai-NaitLiman-Advocacy-legal submission-2017-ENG (download the third party intervention)

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