PR on Judgment in M.A.M. v. Switzerland

Expelling to Pakistan a national of that country who had converted to Christianity in Switzerland was liable to infringe his Convention rights

PR on Judgment in M.A.M. v. Switzerland

The case of M.A.M. v. Switzerland (application no. 29836/20) concerned the applicant’s possible expulsion to Pakistan. M.A.M. is a Pakistani national who had converted from Islam to Christianity while in Switzerland, where he had arrived in 2015 and where his asylum request had been rejected. In today’s Chamber judgment1 the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that if the decision to expel the applicant to Pakistan were to be executed there would be a violation of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in the absence of an assessment of the risk to which the applicant was exposed on account of the overall situation of Christian converts in Pakistan and of his own personal situation.

The Court ruled that the assessment by the Swiss authorities of the risk facing the applicant on account of his conversion to Christianity if he were expelled to Pakistan had been insufficient to uphold the rejection of his asylum request, also given that he had not been represented by a lawyer at any stage in the national proceedings.

Anti-Conversion Laws

Anti-Conversion Laws

Four countries in South and Southeast Asia—India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Bhutan—have laws that severely regulate religious conversion. Government officials and the police, in line with increasingly nationalist politicians and lawmakers, selectively enforce these laws, effectively banning conversion from the majority religion to a minority religion, in particular Christianity and Islam. This article examines the language of these anti-conversion laws, the political and religious contexts in which they became law, and their effects on religious minorities.

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental, universal human right. It is recognized in core international human rights treaties. It protects every human person, regardless of his or her religion or belief or lack thereof. Freedom of religion or belief has an internal component (forum internum) and an external component (forum externum). The significance given to religious freedom in law is a recognition that a person’s religion or belief, or lack thereof, is a fundamental part of who
he or she is and how he or she lives. Therefore, protection of religious freedom recognizes and preserves human dignity.