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Immigration Relief Through Convention Against Torture (CAT)

Posted by Gutierrez Law Firm on August 21, 2013

It is generally advisable for anyone who is physically present in the United States and plans to apply for asylum to simultaneously apply for protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). Asylum and CAT each offer unique protections and benefits, but together, they represent an effective strategy for anyone who fears the imposition of torture if they are forced to return to their country of origin.

Qualifications for Convention Against Torture

The benefits of Convention Against Torture are more limited than asylum, but CAT does offer several advantages. To qualify for CAT, the standard being somewhat higher than for asylum, the applicant must be able to show that returning to their home country will most likely result in being tortured by the government. If the applicant meets the CAT requirements, the U.S. is legally obligated to grant the protections defined by the convention. Also, the failure to meet asylum status requirements cannot be used to disqualify someone for protection under CAT.

To qualify for CAT, the applicant must be subject to torment upon returning to a country of origin. The fear of torture claimed by the applicant must meet the international definition of torture, namely the purposeful infliction of mental or physical pain by a government or public official.

The infliction of suffering may be used to intimidate or punish designated individuals or groups. Torture tactics may also be employed by the government as a means of coercing a confession or enforcing an official discrimination policy. Among the many forms of agony that may qualify someone for protection under CAT are the following:

  • Deprivation of food or water
  • Threats or beatings
  • Rape
  • Electric shock
  • Forceful administration of harmful drugs or substances

Applying for CAT

An applicant can apply for CAT at the same time they apply for asylum. The applicant must provide objective evidence that they will most likely be subjected to extreme forms of cruel or inhumane treatment if they are forced to return to their home country. The supporting evidence for an asylum or CAT petition must document the nature of any torture that was inflicted in the past and is likely to continue in the future.

A CAT applicant may submit media accounts, the documented testimony of relatives who were tortured in the past and other relevant information. Those who apply for U.S. protection must be thorough and demonstrate that the fear of future anguish is completely justified.

If you need help applying for Convention Against Torture, call 210.225.7114 to schedule a free consultation with the lawyers at the Gutierrez Law Firm.