victim: The author
of communication: 12 August 1999
Committee against Torture, established
under article 17 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
on 14 November 2000,
concluded its consideration of communication No. 144/1999, submitted
to the Committee against Torture under article 22 of the Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
taken into account all information made available to it by the
author of the communication and the State party,
its Views under article 22, paragraph 7, of the Convention.
1.1 The author
of the communication is Mr. A.M., born in 1974 and a citizen of Chad.
He is currently residing in Switzerland, where he applied for asylum
on 19 October 1998. His application having been turned down, he maintains
that his forcible repatriation to Chad would constitute a violation
by Switzerland of article 3 of the Convention against Torture.
1.2 In accordance
with article 22, paragraph 3, of the Convention, the Committee brought
the communication to the attention of the State party on 4 October
1999. At the same time, the Committee, pursuant to rule 108, paragraph
9, of its rules of procedure, requested the State party not to expel
the author to Chad while his communication was under consideration.
In a submission dated 26 November 1999, the State party informed the
Committee that measures had been taken to ensure that the author was
not returned to Chad while his case was pending before the Committee.
facts as submitted by the author
2.1 The author
has been trained in computing. He was an active member of the Chadian
Human Rights League (LTDH), vice-president of one of the components
of the Alliance Nationale de Résistance (ANR) and acting vice-president
of the Union des Jeunes Révolutionnaires (UJR) for an 18-month period
during the president's absence. After this period he was denounced
to the security forces by agents who had infiltrated these bodies.
2.2 On 16
September 1998, soldiers came to the author's home during his absence.
A police officer friend advised him to leave his house. After he had
gone into hiding at his mother's home, the soldiers returned to his
house at night. This convinced him he should leave the country.
2.3 The author
requested asylum in Switzerland, but his request was turned down.
Thereupon he was allegedly forced by the Swiss authorities to contact
the Chadian Embassy in France in order to organize his return home.
The embassy officials reportedly refused to assist him as they claimed
they could not ensure his safety unless he expressly renounced the
opposition movement and supported the existing regime.
of the case
3. The author
states that, as he is known to the security services in Chad, if he
returned there he would run a real risk of ill-treatment. He considers
that today it has been sufficiently established, in particular by
the International Federation of Human Rights (IFHR), that human rights
are violated on a massive scale in Chad. Moreover, the Swiss Asylum
Appeal Commission has itself recognized that members of the LTDH,
such as the author, are liable to have serious difficulties with the
Chadian security services. Three LTDH activists have disappeared since
being arrested by Sudanese security forces in April 1998 and handed
over to the Chadian authorities.
The State party's observations on the admissibility and merits
of the communication
4.1 The State
party has not contested the admissibility of the communication and,
in a letter of 4 April 2000, it commented on its merits.
4.2 The State
party points out that a consistent pattern of flagrant or massive
violations of human rights in a country does not in itself constitute
a sufficient ground for determining that a particular person would
be in danger of being subjected to torture upon his or her return
to that country. There must be other grounds indicating that the individual
concerned would be personally at risk.
4.3 In the
present case, the State party considers that the risk alleged by the
author is insufficiently substantiated. The author's explanations
of his political activities were general and vague. At the first hearing
relating to his application for asylum, he was unable to provide the
names of the organizations he had worked for. Moreover, the information
he gave on the LTDH was erroneous and the attestation by the ANR representative
which he produced did not indicate clearly what role he played in
the ANR. His membership card shows a date of enrolment that does not
correspond to the date he mentioned to the Swiss authorities. In addition,
the State party possessed information to the effect that the ANR was
not known as an opposition movement in Chad.
4.4 The State
party also considers that the account the author has given is not
plausible. With regard to his allegations that soldiers were looking
for him, it is unthinkable that, if they had really wanted to apprehend
him, they would not have gone to his place of work, given his statement
that he continued going to work even after the soldiers had shown
up at his home, or to his mother's home.
4.5 The State
party also refers to the Committee's General Comment on article 3,
to the effect that considerable weight will be given by the Committee
to findings of fact that are made by organs of the State party, and
stresses that the communication is only one page long.
4.6 The State
party points out that, contrary to what the author had claimed, the
ANR has subsidiary bases in the Sudan and the Central African Republic
and its zone of operation is located in eastern Chad. This has been
confirmed by documents produced by the author himself. The State party
further maintains that the author claimed, on one occasion, that he
had been prosecuted for having incited young people to rebel, and
on another, that his prosecution was the result of the work of informants
who had infiltrated the ANR or the youth movement.
4.7 The State
party considers that the author's statements regarding his behaviour
after the alleged attempts to arrest him and his escape route are
again implausible. At the hearings he claimed that he had gone to
work during the three or four days preceding his departure, which
seems highly unlikely for a person who is wanted by the police. Moreover,
he took the longest and most complicated route across the whole of
Chad and Libya on his way to Europe, whereas two of his brothers live
in Cameroon and he himself had specialized in smuggling people into
4.8 The State
party further points out that the author has never claimed to have
been subjected to torture in the past or claimed that relatives of
his have been harassed because of his activities; he has not pursued
his political activity since his arrival in Switzerland.
4.9 The State
party points out that this communication is the first occasion when
the author has referred to the Union des jeunes révolutionnaires and
to his position as vice-president. Until this point he had only mentioned
the Chadian Revolutionary Party; the ANR "component" he referred to
has not been clearly identified. With regard to his membership of
the LTDH, the Swiss Asylum Appeal Commission clearly stated that,
apart from the bogus membership card referred to above, his membership
did not sufficiently establish that he would run the risk of being
subjected to torture. With regard to the refusal of the Chadian Embassy
in France to issue the necessary travel documents to him, the State
party observes that the letter from the embassy makes no mention of
the fate awaiting him upon his return to Chad. It merely mentions
that the French authorities are unable to provide such documents.
Moreover, if the author were really wanted by the Chadian authorities,
they would most likely have encouraged him to return.
5.1 In a
letter of 20 May 2000, the author commented on the State party's observations
on the merits of the communication.
5.2 The author
first draws the Committee's attention to the fact that the human rights
situation in Chad has continued to deteriorate since 1994. He backs
up this statement with various documents and press clippings. Having
been a member of the LTDH, the ANR and the UJR, he is convinced that,
if arrested, he would be subjected to torture.
regard to the State party's observation that he was unable to provide
the names of the organizations he was working for at the first hearing,
he points out that it was a particularly short hearing and he was
not questioned on this point. The subsequent hearings were longer
and more detailed, allowing the author to be more specific about his
5.4 As to
the discrepancy between the date of joining the LTDH given on his
membership card and the date he mentioned in his statements, the author
claims that an error was made on the card and he was unable to have
it corrected. He also states he did indeed give the name of Mr. Ngare
Ada as being acting president of the LTDH.
5.5 As to
the ANR, the author is surprised that the State party has not heard
that the organization is part of the opposition movement in Chad.
He has provided several press clippings showing this to be the case,
in particular articles referring to a round-table meeting organized
in Gabon in 1996. In addition, the author notes that there was an
error in the ANR attestation claiming that he had sought asylum in
the Netherlands, but that he has been unable to have the document
the route he took when fleeing from Chad, the author believes that
the route through Libya was less closely watched and the safest one
for him to take. He points out that the border with Cameroon is much
more closely guarded and there was a strong chance of being recognized
the author does not recall having mentioned that he had gone to work
after the soldiers had started looking for him. At that point he had
been unable to take any practical steps himself and it was his wife
who had organized his escape from the country.
and proceedings before the Committee
considering any of the allegations in a communication, the Committee
against Torture must decide whether or not the communication is admissible
under article 22 of the Convention. It has ascertained, as in accordance
with article 22, paragraph 5 (a), of the Convention it is required
to do, that the same matter has not been and is not being examined
under another procedure of international investigation or settlement.
It also notes that all domestic remedies have been exhausted and that
the State party has not contested the admissibility of the communication.
It therefore considers that the communication is admissible. As both
the State party and the author have provided observations on the merits
of the communication, the Committee proceeds with the consideration
of those merits.
6.2 The issue
before the Committee is whether the forced return of the author to
Chad would violate the obligation of the State party under article
3 of the Convention not to expel or return a person to another State
where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be
in danger of being subjected to torture.
6.3 The Committee
must decide, pursuant to article 3, paragraph 1, whether there are
substantial grounds for believing that the author would be in danger
of being subjected to torture upon return to Chad. In reaching this
decision, the Committee must take into account all relevant considerations,
pursuant to article 3, paragraph 2, including the existence of a consistent
pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights. The
aim of the determination, however, is to establish whether the individual
concerned would be personally at risk of being subjected to torture
in the country to which he or she would return. The existence of a
consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human
rights in a country does not as such constitute a sufficient ground
for determining that a particular person would be in danger of being
subjected to torture upon his or her return to the country. There
must be other grounds indicating that the individual concerned would
be personally at risk. Similarly, the absence of a consistent pattern
of gross violations of human rights does not mean that a person might
not be subjected to torture in his or her specific circumstances.
6.4 The Committee
recalls its general comment on the implementation of article 3 which
reads: "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"
(A/53/44, annex IX, para. 6).
6.5 In the
present case, the Committee notes the State party's observations to
the effect that the author's statements concerning the alleged risks
of torture are vague and general, at times implausible, at times inaccurate
and at times inconsistent.
Committee finds that the author has not mentioned any forms of persecution
to which he was subjected in his country of origin. He was never ill-treated
or tortured; nor was he ever questioned or detained by the security
6.7 The Committee
also finds that the author has not produced conclusive evidence of
nor demonstrated convincingly his membership of or activities in the
Chadian Human Rights League, the Alliance nationale de résistance
or the Union des jeunes révolutionnaires.
6.8 The Committee
therefore finds that it has not been given enough evidence by the
author to conclude that the latter would run a personal, real and
foreseeable risk of being tortured if returned to his country of origin.
6.9 The Committee
against Torture, acting under article 22, paragraph 7, of the Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment, therefore concludes that the decision of the State party
to return the author to Chad does not constitute a breach of article
3 of the Convention.