European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Deportation of foreign nationals by air
Extract from the 13th General Report of the CPT,
published in 2003
As from the beginning of its activities, the CPT has examined the conditions of detention of
persons deprived of their liberty under aliens legislation, and this issue was dealt with in a section of
the CPT’s 7th General Report (CPT/Inf (97) 10, paragraphs 24 to 36). The CPT set out in that report
some basic rules concerning the use of force and means of restraint in the context of procedures for
the deportation of immigration detainees.
The CPT’s visits since that report have enabled it to flesh out its knowledge of practices
concerning the deportation of foreign nationals by air. During its visits, the CPT has concentrated
on procedures involving forcible departure with an escort1, and on a number of cases brought to its
attention, in particular because of the death of the deported person, the extent of the means of
restraint used and/or allegations of ill-treatment. The CPT did not confine its examination to the
procedure followed when the person concerned boarded the plane and during the flight; it also
monitored many other aspects, such as detention prior to deportation, steps taken to prepare for the
immigration detainee’s return to the country of destination, measures to ensure suitable selection
and training of escort staff, internal and external systems for monitoring the conduct of staff
responsible for deportation escorts, measures taken following an abortive deportation attempt, etc.
In order to be able to make a detailed study of the procedures and means used during
deportation operations, the CPT obtained copies of the relevant instructions and directives. It also
obtained copies of many other documents (statistics on deportation operations, escort assignment
orders, escort assignment reports, incident reports, reports in the context of legal proceedings,
medical certificates, etc.) and examined the restraint equipment used during deportation operations.
It also had detailed interviews in various countries with those in charge of units responsible for
deportation operations and with prospective deportees met on the spot, some of whom had been
brought back to holding facilities after an abortive deportation attempt.
After its visits, the CPT drew up a number of guidelines, which it recommended the
countries concerned to follow. In order to promote widespread application of these guidelines in all
the States Parties to the Convention, the Committee has decided to group together the most
important principles and comment on them below.
Deportation procedures tend to be classified according to a number of factors, such as the extent to which force
is used, the type of means of restraint employed, and the number of persons escorting the deportee. For example, one of
the countries visited recently distinguished between departures in which no resistance was offered, forcible departures
without an escort and forcible departures with an escort. In general, the most problematic procedures were those
involving the combined use of force, several means of restraint and a large number of escort staff until the deportee's
arrival in the country of final destination.