Rebecca Sciarrino’s: Asylum and Protection Under the Convention Against Torture

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Rebecca Sciarrino is a litigation associate in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. Her practice focuses on high-stakes commercial litigation, with a focus on antitrust and white collar and investigations. Rebecca Sciarrino has represented clients in the surface transportation, higher education, technology, consulting, and manufacturing industries. She also maintains an active pro bono practice, including the representation of individuals seeking asylum and protection under the Convention Against Torture in immigration court.


Asylum is available to foreign nationals who are already in the United States or are arriving at the U.S. border who meet the international law definition of a refugee. The United Nations 1951 Convention defines a refugee as a “person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

There are generally three ways in which to apply for asylum: (1) a person affirmatively applies for asylum through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); (2) a person who is in removal proceedings can apply for asylum defensively by filing an application with an immigration judge; and (3) a person taken into custody within 14 days of entering the U.S. who is placed into expedited removal proceedings can apply for asylum and have their claim adjudicated before being placed into formal removal proceedings.

Convention Against Torture

The United Nations Convention Against Torture is an international human rights treaty that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world. The Convention requires signatories to the treaty to take effective measures to prevent torture in their jurisdictions and forbids signatories to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.

The Convention Against Torture was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1984 and went into force in 1987. Over 170 countries have ratified the Convention, including the United States in 1988.

Becca Sciarrino’s asylum and Convention Against Torture work includes representing a Salvadoran national seeking asylum and withholding protection under the Convention Against Torture based on her actual and perceived sexual orientation.

To learn more about Rebecca Sciarrino’s practice and pro bono work, visit