On the 18th of July 2023, the Committee Against Torture (CAT) has published its case CAT/C/76/D/983/2020. The case concerned K. Berhane, an Eritrean Tigrinya, who demonstrated an unequivocal political awareness and a clear dissent attitude towards the Eritrean regime. After the Eritrean authorities carried out a round up, he left Eritrea fearing to be forcibly recruited. Berhane applied for asylum in Switzerland, but his application was refused after he became an adult.

The Committee noted that persons who have not completed their military service are at risk by the mere fact of their desertion or refusal of service. The CAT also observed that torture and ill-treatment of those who fled military service are acknowledged by Switzerland and several United Nations (UN) Bodies. The Committee specifically noted that the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea indicated that returned asylum-seekers would be subjected to severe sanctions including long periods of incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment. The CAT  highlighted that the Rapporteur’s expressed concern on the voluntary return in 2019 of 56 Eritreans who were staying in Switzerland as it could put these persons at risk because the conditions of their return could not be properly monitored. Furthermore, the CAT observed that the Rapporteur stated that the human rights situation in Eritrea is not improving. Hence, the Committee ruled that Berhane’s return to Eritrea would violate Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Based on an unofficial translation from within the EWLU Team