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Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania, No. 46454/11, ECtHR (First Section), 31 May 2018


Effective investigations as a tool for establishing the truth and maintaining public confidence in institutions. Procedural dimension of Art. 3 ECHR. Collective dimension of the right to the truth.

Normative references

Art. 3 ECHR


1. The lack of an effective and thorough criminal investigation into the applicant allegations of ill-treatment and secret detention under the CIA extraordinary rendition program breaches Article 3 of the Convention in its procedural aspect. 

2. Authorities must always make a serious attempt to find out the truth about victims’ credible allegations of grave violations of human rights, given their right to obtain an accurate account of the suffering endured. Moreover, given the importance and gravity of the alleged events, not only the victim but also the general public has a right to know the truth regarding the relevant circumstances of the case and to be informed of the criminal proceeding and its result.

3. Effective investigations capable of securing proper accountability of those responsible for serious crimes are conducive to maintaining confidence in the adherence by the State’s institutions to the rule of law.
(In the instant case, the applicant, a stateless Palestinian suspected of terrorist offences, was captured in Pakistan and, among others, he was transferred to a CIA-run detention facility in Lithuania. He lodged a criminal complaint, since Lithuania had enabled the CIA to detain him secretly on its territory, thereby allowing his ill-treatment. However, the investigation undertaken by the prosecuting authorities had not been effective for the purposes of Article 3 of the Convention).