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AG Barr issues Matter of O-F-A-S-, clarifying when harm by a public official constitutes torture for CAT purposes

  1. Date Announced

    July 14, 2020

    AG Barr decides Matter of O-F-A-S-, interpreting the provision in the Convention Against Torture (CAT) regulations that require torture be inflicted or approved by a public official or other person “acting in an official capacity.” 8 C.F.R. § 1208.18(a)(1). Per Barr, this official capacity requirement means that the official's actions must be performed “under color of law.” He further explains that “under color of law” standard draws no categorical distinction between the acts of low-level and high-level officials. He offers in illustration that when police officers inflict torture, it is not relevant whether or not they were rogue, only whether they acted under color of law — "whether they misused power possessed by virtue of law, made possible only because clothed with the authority of law."

    [ID #1135]

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  2. Effective Date of Change

    July 14, 2020
Status: Final/Actual
Type of Action: Adjudication
Agencies Affected: AG EOIR

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