APT recommends specific protections for people being returned

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

During 60th Session on Friday 28 April 2017, the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) will consider a Revised General Comment on the prohibition against removing persons to countries where they face a real risk of torture (principle of non-refoulement), as provided in article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT). In this regard, APT submitted joint observations to the CAT, along with eight other NGOs, arguing for more clarity both on various procedural guarantees to protect persons facing removal, and on the practical steps States parties to the Convention must take to decide whether a person can be safely removed from a country.

The CAT’s earlier General Comment on article 3 is now considered out of date, having been agreed in 1998. In 2017, at a time of intense global scrutiny of immigration and refugee policies, as well as actions States are now taking to reduce the mass movement of migrants, this revision will be subject to close examination.

The reliance placed on diplomatic assurances to allow States to remove persons to countries where they would otherwise face a risk of abuse is one question that could cause further controversy. The CAT will need to consider whether such diplomatic promises – particularly those from States that systematically torture – are a sufficient guarantee to enable a State party to the Convention to return persons without breaching the prohibition.

The revised comment will also offer advice to persons who send individual complaints to be considered by the Committee, pursuant to UNCAT article 22.