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ECtHR, XX v. Italy, No. 37201/06, 2008
  • 2008
  • Italy
Membership in a terrorist organisation Terrorism propaganda Public security
Legal bases
European Convention on Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
Torture, degrading and inhuman and treatment

The applicant is a Tunisian national living in Italy. The mother of his child is an Italian national. In 2001, the applicant received an Italian residence permit for family reasons, valid until 2002. In 2002, the applicant was suspected of international terrorism and was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention. He was accused of conspiracy to commit acts of violence in States other than Italy within the intention of arousing widespread terror. He was sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment for criminal conspiracy. In 2005, the applicant was sentenced, in Tunisia, in his absence, to 20 years’ imprisonment for membership of a terrorist organisation. After his released from Italian prisons, the Minister of Interior ordered his deportation to Tunisia under Law of 27 July 2005 that provides exceptional measures in the fight against international terrorism. In 2007, the Italian embassy in Tunis asked the Tunisian Government to provide a copy of the alleged judgement convicting the applicant in Tunisia, as well as diplomatic assurances that, if the applicant were to be deported to Tunisia, he would not be subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention. The Tunisian Government sent a note verbal to the Italian Embassy, and did not sent any diplomatic assurances.

Legal grounds

Article 3 of the ECHR; Italian Law of 27 July 2005


Although States were facing considerable difficulties in protecting their communities from terrorist violence, the absolute nature of Article 3 should not be called into question. In the present case, there were substantial grounds for believing that there was a real risk that the applicant would be subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 if he were to be deported to Tunisia. In addition, the Tunisian Government did not provide the Italian Government with diplomatic assurances, and even if they had given such assurances, the Court would have had to examine whether such assurances provided a sufficient guarantee that the applicant would be protected against the risk of ill-treatment. The Court held that if the decision to deport the applicant to Tunisia were enforced, there would be a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.