REDRESS expert brief in the case of D v Switzerland

REDRESS submitted on 27 July 2016 an expert legal brief in support of the Applicant in the UN Committee Against Torture case of D. v Switzerland.  The case is brought by the Centre Suisse pour la Défense des Droits des Migrants on behalf of the Applicant and relates to the proposed refoulement of the Applicant, a torture survivor, to Italy, in circumstances which the Applicant argues would constitute a breach of the prohibition of non-refoulement under Article 3 and Article 16 of the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT),  together with Article 14 (right to rehabilitation).  This is due to both the destitution the Applicant would face in Italy and his lack of access to appropriate services necessary for his rehabilitation, given his particular physical and psychological needs.    In our expert brief, we submit that it is well-established that the subjection of asylum seekers to adverse living conditions (including lack of access to appropriate health care), either in the country in which they are seeking asylum or on refoulement to a third State, can amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.  It is equally well established that, when considering whether the threshold of minimum severity for inhuman and degrading treatment will be met, States must give special and individuated consideration as to whether the individuals affected form part of any particularly vulnerable groups.  Such vulnerable groups are not limited to families with young children  and can include young men and torture survivors.  Further, it is not necessary to show that systemic human rights violations exist in the country in question.   The needs of a torture survivor, and that survivor’s right to rehabilitation under Article 14 UNCAT require that specific consideration be given to a torture survivor’s right to rehabilitation by any State under whose jurisdiction that torture survivor finds him or herself, including a State that is proposing to send that survivor to a third country.  In addition, Article 14 UNCAT provides a freestanding right to a remedy which includes rehabilitation, an obligation by which Switzerland is bound.

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