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Switzerland Would Breach Article 3 by Returning to Afghanistan an Afghan Convert to Christianity

In Chamber judgment1 in the case of A.A. v. Switzerland (application no. 32218/17) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there would be: a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the event of the applicant’s return to Afghanistan. The case concerned the removal from Switzerland to Afghanistan of an Afghan national of Hazara ethnicity who was a Muslim convert to Christianity.

The Court noted that according to many international documents on the situation in Afghanistan, Afghans who had become Christians or who were suspected of conversion would be exposed to a risk of persecution by various groups. It could take the form of State persecution and result in the death penalty.

The Court noted that, while the authenticity of the applicant’s conversion in Switzerland had been accepted by the Federal Administrative Court, it had not carried out a sufficient assessment of the risks that could be personally faced by the applicant if he were returned to Afghanistan. The Court found in particular that the file did not contain any evidence that the applicant had been questioned about the everyday practice of his Christian faith since his baptism in Switzerland and how he could, if returned, continue to practise it in Afghanistan, in particular in Kabul, where he had never lived and where he said that he would be unable to rebuild his future life.


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