Can Greece lawfully extradite the eight Turkish soldiers to Turkey?

Recent events in Turkey have been covered extensively in the news and will undoubtedly remain a topic of considerable interest and controversy for months, and indeed years to come. In this blog post, I examine one particular story which raises urgent issues of great political and legal significance. It concerns the proposed extradition to Turkey of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece on Saturday 16 July after Friday’s failed coup, using an army helicopter. Amidst unrebutted allegations that they were involved in the failed coup, and Turkey’s demand for their extradition to face trial, all soldiers have claimed asylum in Greece. In this blog post, I consider their asylum prospects under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which provides that: ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’ I outline the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) doctrine on the non-refoulement duty emanating from Article 3 ECHR, and contemplate how it applies to the case at hand. I suggest that the key question concerns whether they face a ‘real risk’ of Article 3 ill-treatment, and tentatively conclude that such real risk is made out.

Article 3 ECHR enshrines an absolute right:

1) In contrast to other rights enshrined in the ECHR, such as the right to privacy (Article 8) or the right to freedom of expression (Article 10), it does not provide for the possibility of lawful interference that is ‘necessary in a democratic society’ for the fulfilment of a legitimate aim. An infringement of Article 3 is conclusively unlawful.

2) Article 15 ECHR, which governs the derogation of States from obligations under the ECHR in states of emergency or war, does not allow for any derogation from Article 3 even in the event of a public emergency threatening the life of the nation (including the threat of terrorist violence) ...

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