- European Court of Human Rights to hear case of Pakistani asylum-seeking Christians
- Pakistan ranked as 5th most dangerous country for Christians in the world
STRASBOURG (17 July 2019) – Recently, ADF International submitted an intervention in T.M. and S.Y.M. v. the Netherlands at the European Court of Human Rights. A Pakistani Christian couple applied for asylum in the Netherlands based on religious grounds. Their application was rejected and they now face deportation back to Pakistan after the authorities expressed doubts about the genuineness of the woman’s conversion. In Pakistan, Christian’s face some of the most severe persecution in the world.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. Our society has a responsibility to protect those who are facing torture, imprisonment or death due to their religious beliefs. Pakistan counts as one of the most dangerous countries for Christians with its draconian blasphemy laws and increasing violence towards Christian groups. The case of Asia Bibi, which gained international media attention, provides a very real example of the persecution Christians face in Pakistan. Sadly, that was not an isolated case and many more are denied their right to freely practice their faith. The truth is that Christians are the most persecuted religion in the world and the European Court of Human Rights has rightly invited submissions on the situation that converts face in Pakistan,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International.
Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. Our society has a responsibility to protect those who are facing torture, imprisonment or death due to their religious beliefs.
Severe Christian persecution in Pakistan
The Christian couple brought their case to the European Court of Human Rights after they were not granted asylum in the Netherlands as there were doubts about the authenticity of the woman’s conversion. The man was raised as a Christian and his wife converted when they married. The applicants claim that upon return to Pakistan they would face a real risk of “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” as prohibited under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Pakistan is currently placed at number 5 on the World Watch List, which ranks countries based on their level of Christian persecution. The persecution level in Pakistan is classed as “extreme” due to its blasphemy laws which carry the death penalty. Converts from Islam are considered apostates and face particular risk.
The case of Asia Bibi, a woman accused of blasphemy and held on death row for eight years until she was acquitted, serves as the most well-known example of Christian persecution in Pakistan. After her acquittal, there were violent demonstrations across Pakistan threatening her life. Following intense international pressure, she was finally allowed to seek asylum in Canada.