In a major ruling, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has stated that countries should not deport or sent back people who have sought asylum because of climate related issues and threats. The ruling is the first of its kind in a petition filed by an individual before the UNHRC against deportation.
Ioane Teitota from Kiribati had lodged a complained with the UNHRC in 2015 after he and his family were deported from New Zealand after his application was rejected. He argued that his right was denied when his asylum application was rejected as rising sea levels and other effects of climate change had made his homeland uninhabitable. In the petition, he also said that he had to migrate because of lack of fresh water, erosion and violent land disputes that had led to fatalities.
While hearing the petition, the UN Committee said that Teitota’s right to life has not been denied or violated as Kiribati had taken several measures with respect to disasters. However, the committee said that it set forth new standards that could be helpful in facilitating future asylums related to climate change. The committee also said that people could face any natural threat at any time, be it floods, erosion, drought, and they could face harm if they are sent back immediately to their home country from the country where they have sought asylum.
The committee also asked the international community to help the countries that are adversely affected by climate change.