Relief under the Convention Against Torture Protection is the third method of relief a person fearing persecution can pursue. An applicant must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that she will be tortured if removed to her country of origin. The Convention Against Torture is an international human rights treaty that has been ratified by the U.S. Senate. While its main purpose is to prevent signatory countries from torturing people within their territories, it also calls for a ban on “refoulement”. Refoulement means the returning, or extraditing of a person to a country where there are substantial grounds for a belief that they will be subjected to torture. Each State Party has a duty to take all needed measures to avert acts of torture. This includes legislative, administrative and judicial measures, as well as any other actions that may be appropriate. States are also obliged to stop other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 2.2 of the Convention states that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever” can justify torture. This includes war or the threat of war, political instability, combating terrorism or any other emergency. Orders from a superior officer are also not a justification for torture.
Importantly, the convention defines torture in its first article:
For the purpose of this Convention, the term “torture” means 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 other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.
Like withholding of removal, the benefits to CAT are restricted. A person who is successful under the convention against torture claim cannot be removed from the United States to the country from which she fled persecution, but can be sent to a third country if one is available. An individual granted CAT cannot adjust her status to legal permanent resident, but can obtain work authorization. This treaty can often be a recourse for someone who has fled their home and to whom Asylum or Withholding of Removal is not available.