The case concerned the deportation of an Iranian asylum-seeker. The applicant, Mr A., was born in 1982 and grew up in Iran. He entered Switzerland in 2009 and immediately claimed asylum. He brought three sets of asylum proceedings, all without success.
He was questioned in person in the first two sets of proceedings, with the help of an interpreter. Initially he stated that he had been arrested and imprisoned in Iran for demonstrating against the presidential elections, but managed to escape and flee the country with the help of a smuggler. In the meantime an Iranian court had sentenced him in his absence to 36 months’ imprisonment. The asylum authorities found that this account was not credible or sufficiently substantiated. His first application was thus rejected and he was ordered to leave Switzerland in 2013.
In his second application he submitted at a hearing that he would be at risk if returned to Iran because he had meanwhile converted from Islam to Christianity. The asylum authorities doubted, however, that his conversion was genuine and lasting and again rejected his application.
In 2014 the Federal administrative Court dismissed an appeal by Mr A. against that decision. It considered that Christian converts would only face a risk of ill-treatment upon return to Iran if they were particularly exposed in the public arena on account of their Christian faith and could therefore be perceived as a threat by the Iranian authorities. This was not the case for Mr A., who was an ordinary member of a Christian circle and the Iranian authorities had most likely not even become aware of his conversion.
In 2016, in a third round of proceedings, his application was again rejected, essentially on the same grounds.
The State Secretariat for Migration thus set a deadline for Mr A.’s voluntary departure in October of the same year. However, his deportation had in the meantime been stayed on the basis of an interim measure granted by the European Court of Human Rights under Rule 39 of its Rules of Court, which indicated to the Swiss Government that he should not be deported to Iran for the duration of the proceedings before it.
Relying on Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment), Mr A. alleged that his conversion to Christianity put him at a real risk of being killed or ill-treated if he were to be deported to Iran.
- No violation of Article 2 or 3 – in the event of Mr A.’s deportation to Iran
- Interim measure (Rule 39 of the Rules of Court) – not to expel Mr A.– still in force until judgment becomes final or until further order.
Press realease ECHR 392 (2017) 19/12/2017