GENEVA (24 JUNE 2015) – Amid the upsurge in migration around the world, it is vital that States ensure that people fleeing torture are immediately identified to avoid exposing them to further trauma, ill-treatment or being forcibly returned, UN human rights experts have stressed in comments to mark the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June.
“Torture is always an emergency and it is vital that victims of torture, who may have suffered traumatic events in their country of origin and during their journey, get immediate support and care to prevent, as far as possible, irreversible physical and psychological harm,” said Adam Bodnar, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.
The UN experts said that migration authorities should ensure that any measures they take do not further traumatise victims; there should be alternatives to detention; reception centres should comply with international human rights standards; and migrants and asylum seekers should be individually assessed, including on their need for protection.
“Migrants need to be treated in accordance with accepted international standards and protected from treatment which might be inhuman and degrading,” said Malcolm Evans, Chairperson of the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture. “We must protect vulnerable people, not victimise them,” he added.
“People should be afforded the same standards of protection against violations of the Convention against Torture, regardless of how or when they arrived in a country,” said Claudio Grossman, Chairperson of the Committee against Torture.
The experts also reminded States of the principle of non-refoulement as set out in the Convention against Torture.
“The significance of non-refoulement is that it applies to all, even people who may not qualify as refugees or asylum seekers. States must separately assess the risk of torture and refrain from deporting anyone to a place where he or she would be at risk of torture,” said UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez.
(*) The joint statement was issued by the UN Committee against Torture, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.