EU Human Rights Court rules Iranian Christian converts have right to seek asylum
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Iranian Christian converts must be granted the right to a fair evaluation of danger by European governments before they can be denied asylum and sent back to Iraq, which is an Islamic Republic. Failure to provide a fair assessment of danger and the consequences that a person’s conversion would have in Iran would be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Sadly, the anti-conversion laws in Iran pose a direct threat to those who have converted to Christianity, and we must ensure that a convert’s right to life is being upheld by all means,” stated Paul Coleman, senior counsel and deputy director for Alliance Defending Freedom International. Christian converts could face torture and even death if they return to Iran, which ranks as the ninth worst country in the world for Christian persecution. Apostasy from Islam is considered a criminal offense that could be punishable by death in Iran.
A brief filed by the European Center for Law and Justice asserted: “If identified by the Iranian government, Christian converts often, at minimum, suffer substantial harm or interference with life by way of deprivation of liberty, assaults and continual harassment; or in the worse case the individual could face severe mistreatment and even death.”
“Despite allegations by the Iranian government that its laws respect and recognize the Christian community, the Christian community in Iran faces systemic and systematic state persecution and discrimination,” the brief continued. “It is the belief of the ECLJ that returning a genuine Christian convert to Iran would subject the convert to ill-treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention.”