Convention Against Torture: What You Should Know

Asylum

Summary

In addition to asylum, there are two other forms of relief available to an individual who fears harm in his or her home country – Protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) and Withholding­­­­­­ of Removal.

Most people are familiar with asylum, which is a certain relief granted to individuals who have faced or would have the potential to face persecution in their home country. In addition to asylum, there are two other forms of relief available to an individual who fears harm in his or her home country – Protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) and Withholding­­­­­­ of Removal.

These benefits are separate and apart from asylum, but they may also be requested at the same time as filing for asylum. Read on to learn more about one of the main alternatives to seeking asylum, CAT.

What Is Protection Under The United Nations Conventions Against Torture?

Convention Against Torture (CAT) was ratified in the United States in 1994. It is an agreement between the United Nations to take appropriate measures to end the occurrence of torture in their territories. In this agreement, it is understood that no signatory party may force an individual to go to or return to a country in which they have reason to believe they will experience torture.

How Is Torture Defined?

Torture is defined as an extreme form of cruel and inhumane treatment. Torture can be an act inflicted for a variety of purposes, including obtaining valuable information or a confession, punishing the victim for some reason, intimidation or coercion, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind. Torture does not include the pain and suffering that arises only from, is inherent in, or is incidental to lawful sanctions.

For the purpose of this agreement, in order for an act to qualify as torture, The United States High Commissioner for Refugees states that an act must:

  • cause severe physical or mental pain and suffering;
  • be intended to cause severe pain and suffering;
  • be inflicted by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of, a public officer or other person acting in an official capacity; and
  • occur while the victim is in the custody or physical control of the torturer.

If you have questions regarding if an act could qualify as torture, consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

The U.S. and Convention Against Torture

As a signatory party, the United States is obligated to follow the rules outlined in the Convention Against Torture. This means that, in addition to taking necessary measures to ensure that torture does not occur on U.S. soil, the U.S. has an obligation to protect approved migrants in fear of torture in their home country.

In order to apply for CAT in the United Sates, an individual must prove that there is a strong likelihood of being tortured in that individual’s home country. An individual is more likely to qualify for protection if they are able to provide additional evidence that supports the notion that they are likely to experience torture. Evidence can include proven examples of past torture or descriptions of unfavorable conditions experienced in the home country.

Types of Protection in Convention Against Torture

Under the Convention Against Torture, an individual can receive relief in two distinct forms of protection:

  • Withholding of Removal: While Withholding of Removal under CAT differs from the traditional Withholding of Removal established under the INA, individuals who qualify for one will ultimately receive the same benefits as the other.
  • Deferral of Removal: Deferral of removal is specifically for individuals who are not able to pursue traditional Withholding of Removal. This is an option for individuals who have histories of deportation or criminal records.

Convention Against Torture Vs. Asylum: Key Differences

The most important distinction between Conventions Against Torture and asylum is the standard of proof. For CAT claims, the standard is significantly higher than for asylum. In addition, only immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals may grant withholding or removal or protection under CAT.

Another important difference is that a grant of CAT does not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status or a green card as is the case with asylum approvals. Further, while a spouse and minor children can receive asylum protection automatically upon a favorable grant, there are no derivative benefits for spouses and children with grants of CAT.

CAT, however, is an excellent option for individuals who have been in the United States for an extended period of time. A person will only be eligible for asylum if they submitted their application within one year of their entry to the United States, subject to a limited number of exceptions. This one-year requirement does not apply to applications for withholding of removal and CAT. Thus, withholding of removal and CAT protection may be available to individuals who have been in the United States for an extended period of time, including many years.

Find An Immigration Attorney To Help With Convention Against Torture

The skilled legal team at Reeves Immigration Law Group may be able to help if you are fearful that you will be harmed after leaving the United States. We will work tirelessly to protect your safety! Contact Reeves Immigration Law Group today for a confidential consultation about your case.

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