Monday, January 24, 2005

Alleged torturer

A former Peruvian policeman has won a review of the decision of the Refugee Status Authority to deport him. He had (apparently) previously admitted to torturing suspects when a policeman in the late 1980's, and left Peru after being attacked by Shining Path guerrillas.

Independently of his claim for asylum, which would seem to be well founded, there would seem to be a case for his prosecution under the Crimes Of Torture Act 1989. This obviously wouldn't apply if his (alleged) crimes were commited prior to the act coming into effect.

What should happen in this case? I'd argue that if appropriate the man should be prosecuted - otherwise we should be told why not. A judge could show clemency - the man may well have been coerced into his acts and one could argue that he has already suffered punishment by being injured and forced to leave his country. He should probably be allowed to remain here - sending him back would expose him to a serious risk of murder.

This is really where we are governed by two international obligations - to prosecute torturers and to provide asylum to victims - in this unusual case both obligations may well apply.

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