Kurd deserves asylum due to Turkey torture threat: Swiss court

Kurd deserves asylum due to Turkey torture threat: Swiss court

GENEVA - Agence France-Presse
A Swiss court on June 7 slapped down a decision by the country's migration office to deny a Kurdish activist asylum, ruling there was still a real threat of torture and mistreatment in Turkey. The Kurdish youth activist, whose name was not given, had his asylum application rejected in 2011 since Switzerland's Federal Office for Migration (BFM) deemed he would not be in danger if he returned to Turkey, the ATS news agency reported.

The man, a member of the now-banned Kurdish nationalist Democratic Society Party, had claimed he had been repeatedly threatened and beaten by police and that intelligence officers had once detained and tortured him for two days, including using electroshock and beating the soles of his feet.

The migration office however concluded that Turkey had significantly improved its human rights record as part of its bid to join the European Union and that the Kurdish activist's story was not credible.

It pointed out that the man had not filed a complaint or tried to make the abuse public, and also to the absence of a medical record detailing his injuries as an indication he had not been mistreated, ATS reported.

The Kurd appealed the case to Switzerland's Federal Administrative Court, which ruled Friday that although Turkey had undoubtedly made significant progress since 2001, the human rights situation there remained "problematic," ATS said.

It could not be ruled out that the Kurd had suffered abuse and torture, or that he risked spending years in prison for his political activism if he returned to Turkey, the court said, ordering the BFM to grant him asylum.

The court reportedly said vague legislation meant Turkish authorities could in some cases prosecute people merely practising their freedom of expression or taking part in legal political activities under the country's anti-terror laws.

The Swiss court's decision also comes two days before a popular vote on whether to approve an emergency tightening of Switzerland's asylum law, as the wealthy Alpine country grapples with how to deal with an influx of refugees. Counting one asylum seeker for every 332 inhabitants, Switzerland ranks as the fourth most popular host country in Europe, trailing only Malta, Sweden and Luxembourg.