European Court asked to rule on deportation of Afghan Christian convert facing execution

An Afghan Christian convert in Switzerland may face persecution and execution if his extradition back to Afghanistan is successful, according to religious freedom advocates ADF International. 

ADF said yesterday that it had filed an expert brief with European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the Afghan facing extradition by the Swiss government, anonymised as 'AA'.

ADF InternationalThe European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg.

ADF said Swiss authorities, who have rejected AA's application for asylum, were 'turning a blind eye to the situation of religious minorities in Afghanistan'. Formerly Muslim AA converted to Christianity while in Switzerland, but in Afghanistan 'apostasy' and 'blasphemy' against Islam, the state religion, is a crime punishable by beheading.

ADF urged the European court to defend religious freedom, saying it 'has a mandate to safeguard the rights of all people and to protect especially the most vulnerable' and that extraditing AA back to a country hostile to his faith contravened the European Convention on Human Rights.

'Christian converts face torture, imprisonment and death when returned to Afghanistan. Switzerland and other countries should not become complicit with the oppression of religious minorities but seek to protect potential victims,' ADF's director of European advocacy Robert Clarke said.

ADF's legal counsel Jennifer Lea, who filed the intervention with the Court, said: 'This case is about an Afghan citizen, who has sought the help of the European Court of Human Rights to shelter him from deportation and likely persecution in his home country.

'International law is very clear on the fact that no country should return a refugee to territories where his or her life could be in danger. Afghanistan is not a safe place for a Christian convert.'