Human Rights Committee: State failed to adequately assess real risk of ill-treatment in event of return to Afghanistan

Thursday, February 20, 2020

On 20 February 2020, the Human Rights Committee (the Committee) published its views in the case of Q.A v Sweden (CCPR/C/127/D/3070/2017) concerning risk of ill-treatment in the event of deportation to Afghanistan.

The author, of Hazara ethnic origin, fled from Afghanistan to Iran at the age of five years old with his family due conflict between the US and the Taliban. In 2015, the applicant arrived in Sweden at the age of 17 and converted to atheism. His asylum application was rejected and an order was made for his expulsion. All subsequent appeals were rejected. In 2017, the applicant applied for a temporary residence permit on the grounds that his mental and physical health was worsening, and that his Hazara ethnic origin and conversion to atheism would expose him to an increased risk of ill-treatment and death if returned to Afghanistan. The Migration Board denied this request and refused to re-examine the issue without the opportunity to provide oral evidence. 

The author complained that his deportation to Afghanistan would constitute a violation of Articles 6 and 7 ICCPR. He argued, inter alia, that there was no way to hide his atheist belief due to visible displays of religion and that he did not have access to a support network in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Migration Court had failed to take his complaints seriously and reached a conclusion without consideration of his arguments based on religious grounds.

The Committee acknowledged that the author’s atheist beliefs had been publicized on social media and online news outlets. As such, it is highly likely that his identity would be known in the event of return to Afghanistan. It was therefore reasonable for an in-depth examination of circumstances in relation to his conversion to have been carried out by the domestic authorities. Furthermore, the Committee noted due to the author’s intersecting forms of vulnerability, i.e., his deteriorating health and suicidal ideation, his ethnic origin, and lack of a support network in Afghanistan, that there is a real risk the author would face ill-treatment in the event of return. As such, the Migration Court had failed to adequately assess the real, personal and foreseeable risk of ill-treatment in the event of his return. The Committee held that, if implemented, his return would amount to a violation of Articles 6 and 7 ICCPR. Furthermore, it held that the State party is under an obligation review the author’s case, taking into account the State party’s obligations under the Covenant and the present Views of the Committee, and to refrain from expelling the author while his request for asylum is being reconsidered.

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 pusexblished but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                                                




Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment