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How the U.N. Convention Against Torture Can Help in Deportation Defense Cases

by: Justin Burton

A Cicero Immigration Lawyer Can Answer Your Deportation Questions Today

If you or someone in you love is facing the possibility of deportation or removal for any reason, it is important to learn more about options for deportation defense. Generally speaking, there are a number of different defenses to removal for which immigrants may be eligible. For instance, if the person facing the possibility of deportation has lived in the United States for a certain period of time, they may be eligible for a “cancellation of removal” or “adjustment of status” as long as they meet other requirements. For persons convicted of a crime that has resulted in a judicial order of deportation, overturning that party’s conviction can be a deportation defense. These defenses to removal are based on federal law, yet there is also international law that can be used in building a deportation defense.

We would like to think more about the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the ways that an immigrant facing removal may be able to invoke it in order to remain in the United States.

What is the U.N. Convention Against Torture?

The full name of this international law is the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” Generally speaking, we tend to refer to it more simply as the U.N. Convention Against Torture. It was ratified in 1984, and it took effect in 1987.

In Article I, the Convention defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or another person acting in an official capacity.”

We realize that the legal definition of torture can be a complicated one to comprehend. We would like to break it down for you a bit. In brief, the Convention defines torture in general terms. Torture is a physical or mental act that inflicts pain or suffering for one of the following purposes:

  • Getting a confession;
  • Punishing someone for an act they either committed or are suspected of having committed;
  • Intimidating or coercing someone; or
  • To inflict pain as a result of discrimination.

The pain or suffering must be inflicted by a public official or someone acting in an official capacity to meet the Convention’s definition of torture. This means that another person in the country who is not acting in an official capacity, yet inflicts pain or suffering for one of the purposes mentioned above, is likely not committing torture as it is defined by the Convention.

Why Does an International Law Apply to Immigrants Seeking to Remain in the United States?

You might be wondering: How does an international law have any weight for decisions a United States court might make about an immigrant’s deportation? In brief, when the United States agrees to an international law, or become a “party” to the law or convention, then it, too, is bound to the terms of the law. Since the United States is a party to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, it is bound by the terms of the law.

Most immediately applicable to any immigrant in the U.S. seeking to rely upon the Convention for a deportation defense, the United States is bound to the provisions of Article 3, which specifically state: “No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” In other words, a country such as the United States cannot remove or deport a person if that person could be in serious danger of being subjected to torture in his or her “home” country.

Contact a Chicago Immigration Attorney

A Chicago immigration lawyer can speak with you more about your deportation defense today. Contact Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC to discuss your case.

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