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How do the Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture accept evidence of illegal push-backs at European borders?

The European Court of Human Rights has been reluctant to find that states violate the European Convention on Human Rights in so called ‘push-back’ operations. This has incited lawyers at European borders to turn to UN treaty bodies such as the Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture. There too they face various evidentiary challenges. One is that they need to prove negative facts, in that the applicants need to prove that they did not have access at the border to an asylum procedure able to properly assess their asylum protection needs. Bringing such a poof is very difficult, for how do you prove that something does not exist? A second challenge is that applicants complaining of a violation of the principle of non-refoulement under Art 3 ECHR need to prove that the expulsion puts them under a real risk of being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in the country of readmission. A risk is by nature not a solid fact but a scenario which has not yet happened, thereby also making it virtually impossible to ‘prove’. This MA dissertation will examine how adjudicators at the Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture have pronounced themselves on evidentiary norms in the context of push-backs at European borders, thereby putting these two bodies in a position to create a more protective case law than the ECtHR. This project will be supervised by Dr Jill Alpes.


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