Victims Could Sue for Human Rights in European Court of Justice

Interview with human rights lawyer GeorgNolte

12/06/05 "
Der Spiegel" -- -- The secret prisoner transports of the CIA create an uncomfortable situation for several members of the old (*the new one is in for a week) German administration. The Munich human rights attorney Georg Note speaks with Spiegel Online about Germany's responsibility and possible repercussions of the affair.

Spiegel Online: US Sec. of State Conoleeza Rice spoke of possible mistakes in relationship to the secret CIA prisoner transports, but at the same time emphasized that the US is a constitutional democracy that meets its international responsibilities. What kind of human rights problems do the secret flights raise?

Nolte: The USA ratified the UN pact for civil and political rights as well as the UN convention against torture and other brutal, inhumane and demeaning punishment or treatment. Thus they are obligated under international law to respect the rights within the scope contained in the framework of the contracts.

Spiegel Online: And the role of Germany . would the administration have made itself complicit if it had tolerated the infringement of human rights of prisoners in its sovereign territory?

Nolte: According to Article 1 of the European Human Rights Convention Germany is obligated to guarantee the rights and freedoms stipulated in the conventions to all persons under its sovereignty. This is defined as responsibility as far as possible to also prevent for human rights abuses by third parties in its sovereign territory.

Spiegel Online: What could be the consequences?

Nolte: Every person who considers himself to have been the victim of an abuse of human rights which could be attributed to Germany, after exhausting all national legal processes, can file a suit at the European Court of Justice.

Spiegel Online: Would the German government be in a position to avoid giving the US landing and over-flight rights, or does this NATO partner have far reaching rights? What rights do the Americans have in Germany?

Nolte: Military flights "within the framework of German law" are allowed according to the Article 57 of the NATO troop statute supplementary agreement. Other flights must be approved.

Spiegel Online: Is German sovereignty put in question as a result of the CIA actions?

Spiegel Online: German sovereignty is always affected when other States do not respect German law within Germany. Whether this has occurred must be determined on a case by case basis.

The interview was held by Björn Hengst

Copyright Der Spiegel

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