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ADC Joins Brief Addressing Convention Against Torture and Deportation

Today, May 2, 2003, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), along with several legal assistance and national policy organizations, including the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Amicus Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), filed an amicus brief in the Second Court of Appeals concerning the Convention Against Torture and its applicability in deportation cases. The brief was written by David Shahoulian, of the law firm Holland & Knight LLP.
ADC, along with these other organizations, is concerned that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is misinterpreting the “lawful sanctions” provision of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention Against Torture). Specifically, the BIA has decided that actions performed against an individual lawfully detained by a government are exempt from the Convention Against Torture under the “lawful sanctions” provision. However, it is quite clear from reading the Convention Against Torture, from its ratification, and from legislation concerning it that this is not the case: actions that occur during lawful detainment that violate U.S. and International Law are not protected by the “lawful sanctions” clause of the Convention.
ADC has joined with these organizations to file the amicus based on its desire to see the Convention Against Torture properly applied in cases of Immigration Law. This desire stems from the fact that ADC encounters many cases of Arab immigrants who seek asylum in the U.S. under the Convention Against Torture. This is particularly true of Iraqi nationals hoping to escape the former despotic regime of Saddam Hussein. ADC is concerned that under the BIA‘s present interpretation of the “lawful sanctions” provision, many of these individuals would not be able to escape torture. A copy of the brief may be viewed at the ADC Website Legal Services section