The Practice and Legality of Rendition

87 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2005

Date Written: October 9, 2005


"Rendition" is the United States' policy of sending terrorism suspects to be interrogated in Middle Eastern countries that practice torture.

This Article introduces the subject by describing a complaint filed in a lawsuit by Canadian citizen Maher Arar. The United States sent Arar from New York to Syria, where he was tortured and held in an underground cell for nearly a year. Arar alleges that his transfer violated the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ("CAT").

Arar's lawsuit may be dismissed before the court reaches the substance of his claims. But much of the evidence needed to evaluate his charges is already a matter of public record. This Article attempts to compile that relevant evidence, which has been reported in hundreds of different sources, into single coherent account for the first time. Section I does this for Arar's case. Section II does it for the other known cases of rendition, in order to address the Bush administration's most common defense of the practice: the argument that before every rendition it obtains diplomatic assurances that a suspect will not be tortured, and these are enough to reduce the odds of torture to under 50 percent and thus comply with Article 3 of the CAT.

Section III addresses the administration's argument that Article 3 of the CAT does not apply extraterritorially.

Section IV examined whether rendition violates the United States' criminal prohibitions on torture in the "Anti-Torture Statute," 18 U.S.C. Sections 2340 and 2340A.

Keywords: rendition, torture, torture outsourcing, extraordinary rendition, arar, torture by proxy

Suggested Citation

Hawkins, Katherine R., The Practice and Legality of Rendition (October 9, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

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