As is well known, states may take measures derogating from their obligations under the human rights treaties during proclaimed states of emergency. They remain, however, bound to respect certain inalienable human rights, the ‘hard core’, at all times and in all circumstances. The right to life, the prohibition of torture, slavery and retroactive penal measures are thus considered as being a ‘minimum safeguard’ against human rights violations. They are generally accepted as being customary international law, one may even speak of jus cogens. Moreover, one may argue that common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which contains a larger list of human rights than the abovementioned four, should also be respected in situations which are below the threshold of an armed conflict. In the important Case of Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua in 1986 the International Court of Justice held that the rules in common Article 3 are fundamental principles of Humanitarian Law, which are customary law and constitute a minimum, applicable in all circumstances. Even so state practice seems to indicate the opposite; experience has shown that it is during emergency situations that flagrant abuses of human rights are most common, especially in the treatment of persons who have been detained or deprived of their liberty.