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ECHR rules on risk of ill-treatment in case of removal of Afghan Sikhs to Afghanistan

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Other Source/Information:
ECHR Press Release
Referral to the CJEU
Original Documents
Relevant Legislative Provisions
European Convention on Human Rights; Revised Qualification Directive (Directive 2011/95/EU on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as BIP for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection- recast)/or QD 2004/83/EC;
Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR], A.S.N. and Others v The Netherlands, Applications nos. 68377/17 and 530/18, ECLI:CE:ECHR:2020:0225JUD006837717, 25 February 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EUAA Case Law Database.
Permanent link to the case
Case history
Related cases:

The applicants in application no. 68377/17 are Mr A.S.N. and Mrs T.K.M., while the applicants in application no. 530/18 are Mr S.S.G., Mrs M.K.G., and Mrs D.K.G. The applicants are Afghan nationals who were born in 1977, 1982, 1974, 1982, and 1947 respectively and live in the Netherlands in Capelle aan den IJssel (A.S.N. and T.K.M.) and Emmen (S.S.G., M.K.G. and D.K.G.). All the applicants are Sikhs who used to live in Afghanistan.

The case concerned their complaint that they would face ill-treatment if removed back to that country.

A.S.N. and T.K.M. are a husband and wife who have also lodged their application on behalf of their two children, who are minors. The family applied for asylum in the Netherlands in October 2015, telling the Dutch authorities that they had left Afghanistan after T.K.M.’s sister had been kidnapped while on the way to the Gurdwara (Sikh temple) and that her brother had received a ransom demand signed by the Taliban and had then himself disappeared. The applicants had started receiving letters demanding to know where the brother was and threatening kidnap and murder if they did not reveal his location. The applicants came into contact with a man who arranged for them to travel abroad: before leaving T.K.M. and the children had stayed in their house all the time, which they had eventually sold to pay or their journey. They also alleged that they had been the target of general abuse and threats in Afghanistan because of their religion. The Dutch authorities rejected both an initial and a renewed asylum application by the applicants, decisions that were upheld in court.

The decisions found in particular that the applicants’ account of events lacked credibility, that they had failed to show that they had left Afghanistan only recently and that they had not made a plausible case for believing that they feared persecution.

The applicants in application no. 530/18 are a father, mother, two children and the children’s maternal grandmother. They applied for asylum in June 2014, telling the authorities that about eight months before leaving Kabul three people had forced their way into their home and that the grandmother’s husband had died as a result of being beaten. They had also suffered constant harassment because they were Sikhs. They had decided to leave Afghanistan and had made arrangements with an intermediary. The Dutch authorities rejected their initial and a renewed asylum application, expressing doubts in particular about whether they had only recently left Afghanistan, which meant in turn that no credence could be given to their account of events. The courts ultimately upheld the authorities’ decisions.

The applicants in both applications complained that their removal to Afghanistan would expose them to a real risk of treatment that would violate Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) or Article 2 (right to life) or both taken together.

No violation of Article 3 - in the event of the applicants’ removal to Afghanistan Interim measure (Rule 39 of the Rules of Court) - not to remove the applicants in application no. 530/18 - still in force until such time as the judgment becomes final or until further order.

*The Judgment refers to the following EASO Products: 

Country of Decision
Council of Europe
Court Name
CoE: European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR]
Case Number
Applications nos. 68377/17 and 530/18
Date of Decision
Country of Origin
Assessment of Application
Country of Origin Information
EUAA Country Guidance Materials
Religion/ Religious Groups