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Urgent Interventions

Switzerland/Sweden: Expulsion from Switzerland to Sweden of an Iraqi citizen seeking international protection, despite risk of being returned to Iraq where his life might be endangered

Geneva, April 3, 2009. The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) deplores the deportation of Mr Khammas to Sweden which took place contrary to the views expressed by non-governmental organisations who have mobilised themselves in his favour. OMCT is deeply concerned that Mr Kammas may in turn be expelled from Sweden to Iraq without due consideration being given to the risks to his physical and mental integrity in Iraq, as he is considered to be a “traitor” by Islamic militia following his work as an interpreter for the US army in the country.

In a press release dated March 31, 2009, OMCT joined various voices which have opposed not only Mr Kammas’ solitary confinement in administrative detention, but also his expulsion from Switzerland to Sweden from where he is running a serious risk of being returned to Iraq. This risk was confirmed at the time of Mr Kammas’ arrival in Sweden. Indeed, Sweden, which had previously rejected his request for asylum, delivered yesterday, as a “welcome”, a decision to return Mr Kammas to Iraq. An appeal may be lodged against this decision within 21 days.

OMCT recalls that Switzerland has from now on heavy responsibilities. By expelling a person who is seeking international protection for his life, to a State which has already refused to accept the risks to which Mr Khammas would be subjected if returned to Iraq and which, moreover, maintains its position, Switzerland can not consider itself to be released from its responsibilities under international law with regard to the absolute prohibuition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

OMCT will continue to mobilise itself against situations where there is a quasi-automatic risk of expulsion. As Switzerland had until now duly considered risks to the physical and mental integrity of the persons concerned, we protest against what could become a new practice. In this regard, OMCT would like to know which steps have been taken by Switzerland to ensure that Sweden will not expel Mr Khammas to Iraq.

OMCT now addresses itself to Sweden with the utmost strength reminding it, once again, of its international commitments in this field, in particular the absolute prohibition of sending a person to a country where there are serious reasons to believe that he or she would be subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment contrary to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

OMCT now therefore urges the Swedish authorities to reconsider Mr Khammas’ request for asylum in view of the serious risks to his physical and mental integrity to which he would be subjected if returned to Iraq.

For further information, please contact: Orlane Varesano, +41 22 809 49 39

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