The UN Committee against Torture rules in a case of persecution of Christians in China

D.Z. v. Switzerland, Communication No. 790/2016

The U.N. Committee against Torture found that the expulsion of our client who alleges persecution by the Chinese authorities on account of her Christian faith, would constitute a violation of Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

D.Z. became a member of the Church of Almighty God, a Christian group professing the gospel of Jesus Christ and the omnipresence of God. She was baptised in 2010. In 2014, the Chinese authorities cracked down on their underground church and arrested and tortured its members including a sister in D.Z.’s congregation.  

In 2015, D.Z. applied for asylum in Switzerland. Her claim was denied by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) who found her account to be “contrary to all logic and the general experience”. D.Z.’s appeal to the Federal Administrative Court (TAF) was rejected because she could not afford to pay the advance fees imposed by the Court who found that her arguments were “bound to fail from the outset”. D.Z. filed an application before the European Court of Human Rights which dismissed her complaints in an unreasoned inadmissibility decision.      

In D.Z. v. Switzerland, the Committee against Torture noted that D.Z. had duly substantiated key aspects of her claim and observed that the Swiss authorities had not disputed D.Z.’s adherence to the Christian faith, even though they found other aspects of her claim to lack credibility. The Committee further noted that “the increasing incidence of persecution of Christians in China” was undisputed between the parties, and also referred to its Concluding Observations on the fifth periodic report on China highlighting “consistent reports that members of different groups including religious minorities continue to be charged, or threatened to be charged, with broadly defined offences as a form of intimidation”.

Under these circumstances the Committee concluded that it would be reasonable to assume that D.Z.’s removal to China “would put her at risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. The Committee requested Switzerland to reconsider her claim for asylum and to apply suspensive effect to the new proceedings. Switzerland must report to the Committee within 90 days on measures it has taken to implement the decision.   

J.S. c. Suisse, CAT déc. 2020

Le requérant est un ressortissant sri lankais qui a été arrêté à l’âge de 12 ans, maltraité et emprisonné par les autorités sri lankaises qui le soupçonnent d’avoir été actif en faveur du LTTE. Il a passé plusieurs années en détention où il a subi des tortures par les autorités et des abus sexuels répétés par des codétenus. Il a enfin pu sortir de manière irrégulière de prison. Lorsque les autorités sri lankaises se sont aperçues de sa disparition de prison, elles ont émis un mandat d’arrêt à son encontre. Ainsi, en cas de retour, il sera exposé à un risque de torture ou à une incarcération dans des conditions inhumaines. Par ailleurs, en cas de renvoi, le requérant encourt un sérieux risque de retraumatisation. Il n’aurait non seulement aucun accès à des soins spécialisés en forme de réhabilitation au Sri Lanka, mais en plus, il n’oserait pas demander une telle thérapie, au risque d’attirer l’attention sur lui et d’être inculpé pour homosexualité, qui est un crime au Sri Lanka. Les autorités suisses en matière d’asile n’ont pas suffisamment investigué ses allégations de torture. De surcroît, elles méconnaissent les possibilités de réadaptation pour le requérant au Sri Lanka. Notre client invoque des violations des articles 3, 14 et 16 de la Convention contre la torture.

UN CAT inquiry: further informtion submitted jointly with OMCT on “Closed Ports” policy

On 26th June 2020, we asked the Committee against Torture to open an inquiry under Article 20 UNCAT into the responsibility of Italy for the systematic torture of migrants pulled-back to Libya. We have made a follow-up submission jointly with the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) informing the Committee on relevant developments along the Mediterranean migration route. These developments have occurred during the summer months when migratory movements across the Mediterranean reached their peak.

The issue set out in this further information concerns the repeated occurrence of sea vessels with rescued migrants being refused permission to disembark at a safe port by authorities in both Italy and Malta. As a consequence of refusing such permission, the vessels are prevented from docking at the nearest safe port from the point at which migrants are rescued in accordance with established principles of human rights and maritime law. This has resulted in the migrants enduring prolonged periods of time in the Mediterranean Sea on board a vessel without adequate resources or medical attention or the ability to seek protection under the Refugee Convention. For the reasons set out below, these occurrences are demonstrative of a “Closed Ports” policy and amount to evidence of a systematic practice of torture and  cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of migrants by both Italy and Malta.

Read submission here.


 

N.H. contre Suisse, Communication no. 1024/2020

Le requérant est un jeune homme érythréen qui sera soumis à des mauvais traitements et le travail forcé en cas de renvoi en Erythrée vu qu’il est considéré comme une personne oppositionnelle au régime. Il a notamment quitté l’Érythrée de manière illégale alors qu’il était proche à l’âge de servir et sera entre autres, accusé de réfraction. Sa demande d’asile a été rejetée sans examen approfondi, tout comme le cas M.G. contre Suisse où le Comité contre la torture de l’ONU avait conclu à une violation des droits procéduraux du requérant (décision du CAT no. 811/2017). La plainte est actuellement en cours et le Comité contre la Torture a accordé l’effet suspensif.

CSDM Requests UN Inquiry into Italy’s Role in the Torture of Migrants in Libya

The CSDM has submitted a formal request to the UN Committee against Torture to launch an inquiry procedure under Article 20 CAT concerning Italy’s conduct in the Central Mediterranean which is leading to the mass torture, rape and forced labour of thousands of refugees and migrants pulled back to Libya.