ACLJ files UN case for jailed Christian pastor, accuses Turkey of human rights violations

Andrew and Norine Brunson. Andrew, a US citizen, has been detained in Turkey after serving as a pastor in the country for 23 years.Facebook

The American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed a case with the UN over the Turkish detention of Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, ahead of President Trump's meeting with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today.

The ACLJ, a religious freedom advocacy group, announced yesterday it had submitted a formal written statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council over the case of Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey for several months.

He was held in October when he and his wife were detained on immigration violation charges after running a small church in Izmir, on Turkey's western coast.

The arrest followed a government crackdown after a failed military coup. The charges have since escalated to accusations of terrorism, though Turkey have produced no evidence for the claims.

ACLJ's  written submission reads: 'As a founding Member State of the UN, Turkey is obligated to adhere to norms set forth in the UN Charter, such as those requiring members "[t]o achieve international cooperation . . . in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and . . . fundamental freedoms . . . without distinction as to [inter alia] religion".

'Pastor Brunson's detention appears to be related to his work as a Christian minister. By detaining and imprisoning Pastor Brunson because of his religious expression, peaceful association, and assembly of religious believers, Turkey is violating not its obligations under the UN Charter, but its own Constitution as well as Pastor Brunson's fundamental rights: freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression, freedoms of peaceful assembly and association.

'Therefore, these violations concern not only Turkey, but every member state and every agency of the UN.'

The letter urged the UN to remind Turkey 'of its continuing obligations under its constitution as well as the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) to respect and value the freedom of religion' and to 'make every effort to ensure that Pastor Brunson is not only treated with great care, but that he is quickly released and allowed to return home to the United States without injury or delay'.

In late March Brunson pleaded in a letter for US intervention in his case, saying: 'Will the Turkish government face no consequence for stubbornly continuing to hold an American citizen as a political prisoner?'

He added: 'Even though I have a long public track record as a church pastor, they falsely accuse me of being a member of an Islamist terrorist group.'