GENEVA, 20 June 2023 — As the world celebrates Refugee Day, the OMCT Working Group on Migration and Torture in Africa calls for greater justice for migrants who are routinely subjected to torture.
Across the continent, people continue to flee conflict and persecution in their home countries. The war that broke out in Sudan in May 2023 has caused more than 530,000 people to flee to neighboring countries. The ongoing war in Ethiopia and the Sahel region has resulted in 5.4 million refugees and internally displaced persons.
Although host countries are trying to help refugees resume their lives, most refugees still face some human rights abuses, including torture.
At its recent meeting, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) noted incidents of violence, particularly sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women and girls, human trafficking, disappearances and refoulement cases. In Kenya, for example, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex refugees and asylum seekers can be effectively denied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Nearly 80% of refugees in Uganda’s Bidi Bidi refugee camp were victims of torture in 2020 and remained denied access to adequate redress and rehabilitation, a CAT study found. In Malawi, the Ministry of Internal Security detained 1,859 refugees and asylum seekers on May 17. Police arrested men, women and children in various districts, including the capital Lilongwe, with the help of the military. Some of those detained reported being beaten and their property destroyed.
Torture and other ill-treatment of illegal immigrants also remain prevalent along Africa’s main immigration roads. Last year, the death of at least 23 sub-Saharan migrants in Melilla on June 24 was an unprecedented tragedy. They were killed by security forces while they were trying to climb a huge fence to enter Spain at the Barrio Chino border crossing on the Melilla peninsula. To date, none of the perpetrators have been prosecuted. The situation remains alarming in Libya, with a non-functioning internal asylum system, continued violence and instability. Thousands are held in detention centers and warehouses, characterized by severe overcrowding, poor living conditions and physical violence. These incidents are well documented, but few have been investigated in recent years. During March and April, more than 7,000 sub-Saharan migrants were brutally deported from Algeria to the small village of Athamaka on the Niger border.
According to the African Commission for Human Rights (ACHPR), only 8% of migrants take legal action to seek redress for violations of their rights. This figure can be explained by their vulnerability, mobility and fear of retaliation. In addition, migrants do not receive any legal assistance and face numerous administrative burdens that hinder grievances at the national and international levels.
To curb this trend, CAT calls on countries including Chad, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya and most recently Ethiopia to investigate and prosecute acts of torture against refugees. In addition, States should provide training to refugee personnel, particularly on issues related to the right of refugees to be reintegrated.
*SOS-Torture Immigration and Torture A group of 10 experts from the OMCT SOS-Torture Network working in Africa *provides first-hand information to provide reliable research and recommendations for protection. intended to be analyzed. * Number of immigrants forTorture and other forms of punishment or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The group is sponsored by the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the Togo Conservation Association (CACIT).