On 6 December 2017, after a year long consultation process with states and civil society representatives, the Committee against Torture (CAT) adopted its revised General Comment (GC) (now No.4) on the implementation of Article 3 of the Convention against Torture (the Convention) in the context of Article 22.
In a decaying global human rights climate, in particular towards people on the move, this GC has been much awaited. Non-refoulement claims are the single most common claims raised before all UN Treaty bodies. Non-refoulement cases are over 80 percent of CAT’s caseload. In addition to this, the Human Rights Committee (HRC), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) also receive individual petitions concerning non-refoulement, and turn to CAT for guidance.
Twenty-three state parties to the CAT (out of 162 in total) provided written comments on the draft GC prior to its adoption. These, in almost every case, pushed back on the standards the Committee aimed to develop. The significant majority of the twenty three States responding were asylum and migration destination states in the global north, well known for their anti migration rhetoric. Alongside these, countries that have a disproportionate burden of asylum seekers, such as Turkey and Morocco also responded. China, the US, the UK, Qatar and Egypt, even though they do not recognise the right to individual petition before CAT, also provided written comments. The states that provided the most detailed and expansive submissions were: the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Australia, Canada, the United States, the Russian Federation, France and Switzerland.
Over these two blog posts, we identify which issues were subject to state pushback and how CAT responded, highlighting the areas where CAT stood its ground and where it conceded. Read the rest of this entry…