CCPR: No violation found in case concerning deportation of a Christian to Afghanistan

Friday, May 22, 2020

On 22 May 2020, the Human Rights Committee published its views in J.I. v. Sweden (CCPR/C/128/D/3032/2017) concerning the decision to deport a Christian to Afghanistan.

The case concerns an Afghan national of Hazara ethnic origin whose parents would practice Christianity in secrecy. The applicant’s parents were attacked by a group believed to be affiliated with the Taliban and subsequently went missing. The applicant and his brother moved to Iran with the help of a family friend, where they too would practice Christianity in secrecy. He later travelled to Sweden, where he made an application for asylum in 2014 before he was assigned to a foster family in 2015. His application for asylum was rejected on the grounds that his Christian faith was not believed to be genuine. He complained that his deportation to Afghanistan would expose him to a real risk of irreparable harm or death due to his Christian faith and ethnic origin in violation of Articles 6 and 7 ICCPR and further argued that the Migration Agency had failed to assess the evidence showing his case to be credible.

Recalling its General Comment No.31 (2004), the Committee observed that there is an obligation on State parties not to extradite, deport, or expel an individual from their territory where there are substantial grounds for believing, regardless of the sincerity of religious conversion or conviction, that there is a real risk of irreparable harm, such as that contemplated by articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant. However, the Committee added that this risk must be personal and that the threshold for demonstrating the possibility of irreparable harm is high. It observed, inter alia, that the applicant had not presented evidence to substantiate his claim that he has been or would be targeted in the event of his return. It considered further that the State party had taken into account the necessary elements required to evaluate the risk in the event of the applicant’s return.

The Committee concluded that based on the evidence and circumstances in this case, the applicant had not adduced sufficient grounds to demonstrate that he would face a real risk of treatment contrary to Articles 6 and 7 ICCPR, nor was the decision of the Swedish authorities shown to be arbitrary or manifestly erroneous, or that it amounted to a denial of justice. Furthermore, while it is not in a position to assess the extent to which the current situation in his country of origin may impact the author’s personal risk, the Committee reminded the State of its obligation continuously assess new developments and the risk that any individual would face in case of return to another country before a final action regarding an applicant’s deportation or removal is taken. 

Photo: GPA Photo Archive, September 2010, Flickr (CC)

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

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