No ban on deportation to Afghanistan for young healthy men returning to Kabul

For young, healthy men returning to the Kabul area and the city of Masar-e Sharif, the general living conditions in Afghanistan mean that there is regularly no danger of deportation even if they do not receive support from family or tribal members. Even the formal act of baptism and the membership in the Catholic Church which is based on this act alone does not lead to a ban on deportation. This was decided by the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate in Koblenz in its judgment of 22 January 2020 (file number: 13 A 11356/19.OVG).

The plaintiff is a young man of Afghan nationality who entered Germany at the end of 2015 and applied for asylum after a stopover in Sweden. In November 2016 he was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment for rape and grievous bodily harm. After his asylum application was rejected by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), he filed a complaint which was dismissed by the Administrative Court. In his appeal, which was limited to the determination of prohibitions of deportation, the plaintiff asserted that he had in the meantime been baptized a Catholic and that he feared considerable danger to life and limb as a result of his conversion to the Christian faith in the event of a return to Afghanistan. After hearing several witnesses and questioning the plaintiff about his conversion to Christianity, the Higher Administrative Court dismissed the appeal.

There is no ban on deportation for the plaintiff. He was not threatened by any treatment in Afghanistan on religious grounds contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It is true that persons who have turned away from Islam and converted to Christianity are exposed to dangers to life and limb in Afghanistan if their religious convictions are made known. However, on the basis of the impression conveyed by the plaintiff in the oral hearing, the taking of evidence and the available documents, the court had not come to the conclusion that he had seriously turned to the Christian faith, which would make religious activity indispensable for him in Afghanistan. If a person seeking protection invoked the danger of conversion to another faith, he or she had to substantiate the internal motives that had led him or her to conversion.

The court was not bound by the Church's assessment that the baptism of the person concerned was based on a serious and lasting decision of faith.

As was apparent from the statements of the plaintiff and the witnesses in the oral hearing, he had indeed made himself thoroughly familiar with the religious foundations and practice of the Catholic faith. However, it could not be established that the plaintiff had turned to Christianity, which shaped his religious identity in such a way that Christian religious activity was indispensable for him. The motives for the change of faith had not become sufficiently clear and plausible, and it was also not recognizable that the plaintiff practiced the faith in a way that was felt to be binding for him.

The formal act of baptism alone, and the membership in the Catholic Church on this basis, did not lead to a ban on deportation.

The poor general living conditions in Afghanistan, in particular the unstable security situation and the difficult supply situation, also did not lead to a deportation ban. The level of indiscriminate violence caused by the internal armed conflict is not so high that every civilian returning to Kabul or Masar-e Sharif faces a serious individual threat to his or her life and integrity. This situation of a threat that in any case does not exist nationwide is also the starting point for other higher court decisions in Germany. Young, male Afghan citizens who - like the plaintiff - do not have any health impairments, are regularly not threatened by the high level of damage necessary for the determination of a deportation ban when returning to the Kabul area due to the humanitarian conditions.

Press release of the OVG No. 3/2020