On the 5th of June 2023, the Committee against Torture (CAT) published its communication no. 1044/2020. The case concerned a Russian national with Chechen ethnicity, N.U., who is prosecuted for his alleged participation in an illegal armed formation and contact with people fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic and consequently he was detained in deplorable conditions. After his release, the applicant left the Chechen Republic and registered in Petrozavodsk from where he travelled to Finland and applied for asylum. Finland rejected his asylum application.
The CAT noted that despite Finland’s finding that N.U. would be at risk of human rights breaches in the Chechen Republic, Finland concluded that his profile was not of such interest to the Chechen or other Russian authorities that he would be searched for in Petrozavodsk. The Committee recalled, however, that when assessing whether “substantial grounds” exist, it will take into account the human rights situation of a State as a whole and not of a particular area, and also highlighted that the so-called “internal flight alternative” is not reliable nor effective. Furthermore, the CAT observed that there is an ongoing criminal investigation against the complainant in the context of which he has been subjected to beatings during interrogations and deplorable conditions of detention. The CAT further observed that Finland accepted that the Chechen authorities would be able to find out N.U.’s location if he registered elsewhere in Russia and noted information about forced abductions to the Chechen Republic from other parts of Russia. Hence, the CAT concludes that N.U. would face a foreseeable, real and personal risk of being subjected to torture if he is returned to Russia which would breach Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.