UN body asks Switzerland not to deport Chilean campaigner

Flor Calfunao Paillalef pictured at the UN building in Geneva. Cocos-Lokos

The UN Committee Against Torture has urged Switzerland not to deport human rights activist Flor Agustina Calfunao Paillalef to Chile because there is a high likelihood that she would face persecution or risk being tortured.

This content was published on December 19, 2019 - 17:51

Paillalef approached the UN body after Switzerland rejected her bid for asylum last year and ordered her to return to her country of birth. But the Committee ruled on Thursday that this would put her at risk of being subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as suffered by various members of her family.

A member of the Mapuche indigenous people of Chile, Paillalef has lived in Switzerland since 1996. In 2008 she was awarded a human rights prize by Geneva for her fight against Chilean state oppression of the Juan Paillalef Community in the region of Araucanía.

The UN Committee Against Torture has appealed to the Swiss authorities to look again at its decision not to grant Paillalef asylum. It found evidence of systemic human rights abuses against Mapuche people and a failure by the Chilean state to investigate or prosecute offences.

Abuses are more frequent against people who campaign against hydroelectric, forestry or mining concessions.

The Swiss authorities have in the past refused to comment on the Paillalef case to the media.

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