Implementation of article 3 of the Convention in the context of article 22 *
In view of the requirements of article 22, paragraph 4, of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that the Committee against Torture "shall consider communications received under article 22 in the light of all information made available to it by or on behalf of the individual and by the State party concerned",
In view of the need arising as a consequence of the application of rule 111, paragraph 3, of the rules of procedure of the Committee (CAT/C/3/Rev.2), and
In view of the need for guidelines for the implementation of article 3 under the procedure foreseen in article 22 of the Convention,
The Committee against Torture, at its nineteenth session, 317th meeting, held on 21 November 1997, adopted the following general comment for the guidance of States parties and authors of communications:
1. Article 3 is confined in its application to cases where there are substantial grounds for believing that the author would be in danger of being subjected to torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention.
2. The Committee is of the view that the phrase "another State" in article 3 refers to the State to which the individual concerned is being expelled, returned or extradited, as well as to any State to which the author may subsequently be expelled, returned or extradited.
3. Pursuant to article 1, the criterion, mentioned in article 3, paragraph 2, of "a consistent pattern or gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights" refers only to violations by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
4. The Committee is of the opinion that it is the responsibility of the author to establish a prima facie case for the purpose of admissibility of his or her communication under article 22 of the Convention by fulfilling each of the requirements of rule 107 of the rules of procedure of the Committee.
5. With respect to the application of article 3 of the Convention to the merits of a case, the burden is upon the author to present an arguable case. This means that there must be a factual basis for the author's position sufficient to require a response from the State party.
6. Bearing in mind that the State party and the Committee are obliged to assess whether there are substantial grounds for believing that the author would be in danger of being subjected to torture were he/she to be expelled, returned or extradited, the risk of torture must be assessed on grounds that go beyond mere theory or suspicion. However, the risk does not have to meet the test of being highly probable.
7. The author must establish that he/she would be in danger of being tortured and that the grounds for so believing are substantial in the way described, and that such danger is personal and present. All pertinent information may be introduced by either party to bear on this matter.
8. The following information, while not exhaustive, would be pertinent:
(a) Is the State concerned one in which there is evidence of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights (see art. 3, para. 2)?
(b) Has the author been tortured or maltreated by or at the instigation of or with the consent of acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity in the past? If so, was this the recent past?
(c) Is there medical or other independent evidence to support a claim by the author that he/she has been tortured or maltreated in the past? Has the torture had after-effects?
(d) Has the situation referred to in (a) above changed? Has the internal situation in respect of human rights altered?
(e) Has the author engaged in political or other activity within or outside the State concerned which would appear to make him/her particularly vulnerable to the risk of being placed in danger of torture were he/she to be expelled, returned or extradited to the State in question?
(f) Is there any evidence as to the credibility of the author?
(g) Are there factual inconsistencies in the claim of the author? If so, are they relevant?
9. Bearing in mind that the Committee against Torture is not an appellate, a quasi-judicial or an administrative body, but rather a monitoring body created by the States parties themselves with declaratory powers only, it follows that:
(a) Considerable weight will be given, in exercising the Committee's jurisdiction pursuant to article 3 of the Convention, to findings of fact that are made by organs of the State party concerned; but
(b) The Committee is not bound by such findings and instead has the power, provided by article 22, paragraph 4, of the Convention, of free assessment of the facts based upon the full set of circumstances in every case.
* Contained in document A/53/44, annex IX.