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Rendition Judgment finalised ECHR - Poland must now implement
The ECHR judgment in the case of Abu Zubaydah v Poland became final today. In a press release this afternoon, the ECHR announced that it had rejected a claim by Poland to refer the case for rehearing by the Grand Chamber of the Court. The Polish authorities request for a rehearing appeared to be an attempt to delay implementation of the powerfully worded and strongly condemnatory judgment handed down on 24 July last year. The Court has refused to indulge the attempt to push the truth back under the carpet. As of today's decision the Polish government is legally obliged to implement the courts findings. The judgments in these cases (Abu Zuabydah and al Nashiri's judgments were issued at the same time) are among the most careful, thorough and significant cases to be handed down from the ECHR in recent years. The Court found Poland responsible for the torture, secret detention, unlawful transfer, violations of fair trial and of private and family life. The judgment found the evidence against Poland "coherent, clear, and categorical." It was found to have "facilitated the whole process, created the conditions for it to happen and made no attempt to prevent it from occurring," even though it was inconceivable that it did not know the torture to which the prisoners would be subject. Among the rights that the Court found violated by Poland are the "right to truth," which requires that it finally conduct a thorough and effective investigation and making public information concerning its role in the extraordinary rendition programme. The Court emphasized the obligations to hold to account those responsible, yet no one has yet to be punished for CIA torture and black site detention in Poland or elsewhere. Poland is entering a new phase and has an opportunity to engage in a wholly new way. Information that has come out since judgment renders further beyond plausible deniability its role in the programme. It should now meet its legal obligation to implement fully the judgment in good faith, move to finally address the crimes of the past and reassert its long-standing commitment to the rule of law. It will be subject to the supervision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as it does so. The applicants counsel will engage with that process in an attempt to secure meaningful implementation. Abu Zubaydah for his part remains in arbitrary detention in GB without judicial review or criminal charge. He has been held in arbitrary detention since he disappeared into the secret detention and torture regime in 2002.