OMCT: Urgent need to prevent transfers to torture

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Sydney World Refugee Day march - Photograph: Peter Boyle

The OMCT has called for the development of clear and comprehensive guidelines on how to enforce the prohibition of refoulement and how to put in place effective remedies against it.

GENEVA, 7 August 2015: With migration pressures increasing around the world, new conflicts emerging and an aggressive counter-terrorism debate portraying foreigners and migrants as unwanted or security threats, the OMCT warns of an increasing risk that States are sending people back to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

In a thematic briefing to the UN Committee against Torture on 6 August 2015, the UN main anti-torture body, the OMCT presented its concerns regarding the lack of implementation and protections against transfers to torture as a growing and under-reported global problem.

“States who send persons back to real risks of torture are complicit for such violations under article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It is alarming to see that protections against such transfers are lacking or not applied in many regions of the world. There is a need to think collectively on how to reinforce an effective protection strategy to prevent transfers to torture in reality,” said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

The briefing set out the legal framework on the principle under comparative human rights law, the implementation of fundamental preventive safeguards and the reinforcement of effective national and international remedies against return.

Another key topic has been the numerous legal policy challenges posed by counter-terrorism laws and practices post 9-11. States have sought to limit or circumvent this fundamental principle and transferred persons to countries with a real risk of torture.

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The OMCT called for the development of a clear, comprehensive and systematic set of guidelines on how to enforce the prohibition of refoulement and how to put in place effective remedies against it – including repatriation. Indeed the Committee against Torture has reaffirmed on numerous occasions the absolute nature of the principle. States should apply no exception based on national security concerns and counter-terrorism policies.

The briefing to the UN Committee Against Torture included Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General, and OMCT legal experts, Helena Solà Martín and Nicole Buerli, and other international experts including Dr Fabián Salvioli, the chairperson of the UN Human Rights Committee; Dr Mark Villiger, the judge of the European Court of Human Rights; and leading civil society experts Carla Festmann, director of Redress, and Ian Seiderman, head of legal policy, at the International Commission of Jurists.

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Hakimi Abdul Jabar
10 Apr 2016 12.08pm

I am rereading Norlaila Othman’s article in the Aliran Monthly Vol 24 (2004): Issue 11/12. http://aliran.com/archives/monthly/2004b/11b.html On the night of 17th. of April, 2002 in which her husband, Mat Sah Satray was arrested and about to face torturous incarceration for the next SEVEN (7) years of his life, which certainly would affect the lives of his immediate family, I was already in the employment of Messrs. Shatar, Tan & Chee of Kuala Lumpur, as a litigation lawyer. Mat Shah and his fellow detainees were tortured. A number of them (31 in the article) had pleaded innocence & non-involvement with the JI, thus discerning the fallacy of the terrorism agenda. On 9 December 2004, when Mat Sah & 23 others were kicked, beaten, punched and spat on by more than 50 UKP officers including some of the wardens, an international penal tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia stated in Prosecutor v. Furundžija that there is a jus cogens for the prohibition against torture. It also stated that every State is entitled “to investigate, prosecute and punish or extradite individuals accused of torture, who are… Read more »