UNCAT: Removal of complainants to the Russian Federation would not amount to violation of Article 3 CAT

Thursday, July 30, 2020

On 30 July 2020, the Committee against Torture published its views in Z.K. and A.K. v Switzerland (No. 698/2015) on the removal of the complainants to Russia.

The case concerns Z.K. and her son, both of Chechen ethnicity. The first applicant’s husband was accused of belonging to the Chechen rebel movement and, as a result, their home had been subject to a number of military searches. To ascertain her husband’s whereabouts, Z.K. had also been attacked and repeatedly raped by a deputy commander of a battalion. As a result of this ongoing abuse, she fled Russia in 2013 for Switzerland, where her application for asylum was rejected. She complained that if returned to Russia, her and her son would be targeted and exposed to a real risk of torture in violation of Article 3 CAT. She further complained that the assertion that her account was not credible because she did not report the numerous rapes was unjustified and cynical, particularly as medical evidence had later been submitted.

The Committee observed that the applicant faced particular difficulties in recounting abuse as a result of trauma, stigma and shame. Indeed, referring to its General Comment No. 4, the Committee observed that a State should provide fundamental guarantees and safeguards, such as, inter alia, an examination and evaluation by a medical professional, particularly for those in vulnerable situations. Despite this, it noted the observations by the State party regarding the multiple inconsistencies and irregularities in the applicant’s claim regarding persecution and considered that the State party assessed sufficiently the complainant’s personal experiences and foreseeable risks in the event of return to Russia. Moreover, the Committee concluded that the State had complied with the above-mentioned requirement to ensure a medical examination, by enabling the complainant to undergo medical and psychological examinations and subsequent treatment.

The Committee therefore concluded that the first complainant had not discharged the burden of proof or demonstrated the existence of substantial grounds that they would be exposed to a real risk of a foreseeable, real and personal risk of torture within the meaning of Article 3 CAT.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Individual assessment
Vulnerable person