On the 7th of February 2023, the Committee Against Torture (CAT) published its decision no. 1081/2021. The case concerned X and Y, a Turkish couple, claiming that Switzerland would violate the Convention against Torture by deporting them to Kosovo which would expel them to Türkiye, where they would be detained and tortured. The applicants were teachers in Kosovan Gülen schools, and following the abduction of co-workers by the Turkish authorities they claimed asylum in Switzerland. Their applications were rejected.
First, the CAT decided that the applicants would face a personal, real, present and foreseeable risk of being subjected to torture if transferred to Türkiye. The Committee stated that torture was widespread, Gülen detainees committed suicide and torture allegations were insufficiently investigated. Furthermore, the CAT noted the continuous abductions and enforced disappearances and that those disappeared for the longest periods were individuals alleged to be involved with the Gülen movement.
The CAT then decided that X would be at risk of a transfer to Türkiye if returned to Kosovo because X, along with 77 other individuals, was profiled by Türkiye as affiliated with a terrorist organisation and that 6 of them, 5 of whom were co-workers, had their residence permits revoked and were abducted in a Turkish intelligence operation, in collusion with the Kosovo intelligence forces, and forcibly taken to Türkiye, where they were charged with terrorism and espionage. The CAT further noted that Kosovo is not bound by the Convention to refrain from transferring X. Regarding Y, the CAT considered she is at risk of a transfer to Türkiye as Y was also a co-worker of the abducted persons and that, as the wife of X, she could be used to put pressure on X.
Lastly, the CAT ruled that Kosovo’s guarantees did not provide sufficient assurances against a deportation because they simply consisted of an email by the Department of Citizenship, Asylum and Migration of the Ministry of the Interior. The Committee further observed that Kosovo’s guarantees indicated that the refugee status prohibits the return however it noted the Minister’s request to designate the Gülen movement as a terrorist organisation. If the request is granted, non-refoulement protection might no longer apply to the individuals concerned.