ECtHR Decision in N.K. v. France, Application No.7974/11 [Article 3], 19 December 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Applicant is a Pakistani national who sought asylum in France in August 2009 alleging persecution on the basis of his conversion to the Ahmadiyya religion. Specifically, he claims he was abducted, detained and tortured for several days before escaping. He left Pakistan allegedly to flee an arrest warrant against him for preaching. The French authorities rejected his asylum application twice, and the national asylum court dismissed his appeal twice, each time on the ground that his statements were insufficiently substantiated. He was detained pending deportation, which has been halted by a Rule 39 Interim Measure from the ECtHR. He claims before the ECtHR that his removal to Pakistan would place him at risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR.

The Court concluded that, in view of the situation of persons belonging to the Ahmadiyya religion, the protection afforded by Article 3 would only be relevant for those who publicly practice that religion and proselytise, as it appears that only they are persecuted in society and by the authorities. The Court considered that the Applicant’s account is detailed and is sufficiently supported by the documents submitted by him. The French authorities, for their part, had dismissed his credibility without sufficient reasoning. Before the ECtHR, the French Government also did not provide any argumentation that could call the Applicant’s credibility into question. The documents submitted by the Applicant (an arrest warrant and a report of preliminary investigations against him) show that the authorities knew about his religious activities and that these had prompted prosecution on allegations of blasphemy. Therefore, if he were returned to Pakistan, he would attract the attention of the authorities to his own disadvantage and he would be exposed to a risk of ill-treatment contrary to Article 3.

The Court also ruled that the interim measure granted under Article 39 should remain in force until the judgment is final or until the Court indicates otherwise.

Based on an unofficial ECRE translation.

Read the full judgment(French only) of the European Court of Human Rights.

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Credibility assessment
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment