Ioane Teitiota vs New Zealand
The author of the communication is Ioane Teitiota, a national of the Republic of Kiribati born in the 1970s. His application for refugee status in New Zealand was rejected. He claims that the State party violated his right to life under the Covenant, by removing him to Kiribati in September 2015.
According to the views of the Committe: "In the present case, the Committee accepts the author’s claim that sea level rise is likely to render the Republic of Kiribati uninhabitable. However, it notes that the timeframe of 10 to 15 years, as suggested by the author, could allow for intervening acts by the Republic of Kiribati, with the assistance of the international community, to take affirmative measures to protect and, where necessary, relocate its population. The Committee notes that the State party’s authorities thoroughly examined this issue and found that the Republic of Kiribati was taking adaptive measures to reduce existing vulnerabilities and build resilience to climate change-related harms. Based on the information made available to it, the Committee is not in a position to conclude that the assessment of the domestic authorities that the measures by taken by the Republic of Kiribati would suffice to protect the author’s right to life under article 6 of the Covenant was clearly arbitrary or erroneous in this regard, or amounted to a denial of justice."
"In the light of these findings, the Committee considers that the State party’s courts provided the author with an individualized assessment of his need for protection and took note of all of the elements provided by the author when evaluating the risk he faced when the State party removed him to the Republic of Kiribati in 2015, including the prevailing conditions in Kiribati, the foreseen risks to the author and the other inhabitants of the islands, the time left for the Kiribati authorities and the international community to intervene and the efforts already underway to address the very serious situation of the islands. The Committee considers that while the author disagrees with the factual conclusions of the State party, the information made available to it does not demonstrate that the conduct of the judicial proceedings in the author’s case was clearly arbitrary or amounted to a manifest error or denial of justice, or that the courts otherwise violated their obligation of independence and impartiality."
"Without prejudice to the continuing responsibility of the State party to take into account in future deportation cases the situation at the time in the Republic of Kiribati and new and updated data on the effects of climate change and rising sea-levels thereupon, the Committee is not in a position to hold that the author’s rights under article 6 of the Covenant were violated upon his deportation to the Republic of Kiribati in 2015."
"The Human Rights Committee, acting under article 5 (4) of the Optional Protocol, is of the view that the facts before it do not permit it to conclude that the author’s removal to the Republic of Kiribati violated his rights under article 6 (1) of the Covenant."
Environment; Refugee Protection; Return/Removal/Deportation;
UNHCR Statement on the case
United Nations,UN: Human Rights Committee [CCPR], Ioane Teitiota vs New Zealand, 24/10/2019UN Human Rights Committee issues views on asylum claim due to climate-related threats.