M.R. v Switzerland: Political activities of Iranian national would not give rise to violation of Article 2 or 3 ECHR in event of return

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

On 16 June 2020, the European Court of Human Rights published its judgment in M.R. v Switzerland (Application No. 6040/17) concerning an individual's return to Iran.

The applicant arrived in Switzerland in 2009 and made a failed application for asylum, claiming that he fled because he was subject to discrimination as a result of his belonging to the Sunni community. When making his second application, the applicant claimed that he was politically active in Switzerland in anti-regime demonstrations and had aroused the interest of the Iranian authorities, and would therefore be exposed to the risk of death or ill-treatment upon return. This was also rejected, on the grounds that he had, inter alia, not been politically active in Iran and was therefore not exposed as a political opponent. Submitting his third application, he claimed that his father was arrested in relation to his involvement in political demonstrations. This was rejected and a return order was issued. He complained that his return to Iran would expose him to a real risk of death or ill-treatment contrary to Articles 2 and 3 ECHR.

The Court initially observed that the general human rights situation in Iran is not such as to preclude the applicant’s removal to Iran, and it was therefore necessary to examine his individual circumstances. It noted, inter alia, that there was no indication that the procedures in Switzerland lacked effective safeguards or that the applications had not been carefully considered. The Court also highlighted that seven years had passed before the applicant notified the domestic authorities that he had been politically active in Iran and indicated that it is normally difficult to ascertain whether there is a genuine commitment to the claimed political causes or if it “serves as a pretext for creating post-fugitive grounds for asylum”.

The Court concluded that the applicant had not presented a credible evidence that he was politically active before departing Iran and that his profile was not one of a serious opponent to the Iranian regime. It added finally that new evidence provided in subsequent applications does not reveal evidence of a specific risk. As such, it found no violation of Article 2 or 3 ECHR.

Photo: ECtHR – Latvian Foreign Ministry, October 2014, 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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