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United Nations States that Christians in China Are ‘at Risk of Torture’

The Chinese Communist Party is working actively and on numerous fronts to destroy Christianity and replace it in the hearts, minds, and souls of the people of China.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“United Nations States that Christians in China Are ‘at Risk of Torture,’” by Massimo Introvigne, Bitter Winter, October 29, 2021:

The worst decision ever for China rendered by a body of the United Nations came in a case of a refugee of The Church of Almighty God (CAG). The Committee against Torture (CAT), the U.N. body that monitors the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties, rendered on July 27, 2021 a decision on a case of a female CAG member, which has a long judicial history.

The decision was a significant blow to China as it ruled that Christians in general, not only the members of new religious movements banned as xie jiaosuch as the CAG, are subject to an “increasing incidence of persecution,” so that deporting the applicant to China “would put her at risk of torture of other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Since electronic publication of the CAT decisions only includes cases up to December 2019, we offer to our readers the possibility to download the copy of the decision, whose general distribution was allowed on August 31, 2021.

The early story of the case is discussed as part of a paper I published a few months ago with my colleagues James T. Richardson and Rosita Šorytė, on hundreds of CAG refugee cases decided by courts all over the world.

On February 3, 2016, the Swiss State Secretariat for Immigration (SEM) rejected the CAG member’s asylum application.The applicant’s story of her conversion to the CAG did not persuade the Secretariat as genuine. That she was denounced to the Chinese police by a relative of a co-religionist and repeatedly avoided arrest at the last minute was found as even more unbelievable, also in light of the fact that she did not experience problems in obtaining a passport.

On April 30, 2016, the Swiss Federal Administrative Court found a prima facie case that the applicant’s appeal was doomed to fail and, also noting that she had not paid the advance procedural fees of 900 Swiss francs, ruled against her.

On November 9, 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared her application to have the case reviewed inadmissible, since the CAG member (who had tried to self-represent herself) had relied on the wrong provisions of international law, citing statutes that did not apply to her case.

Assisted by the Centre Suisse pour la Défense des Droits des Migrants, the CAG sister then submitted a complaint to the CAT on December 1, 2016. She offered a detailed explanation of how the husband of a co-religionist, who was hostile to the CAG, had led the police to her, knowing her only by her religious name, and she had adventurously managed to escape. Since she presumed the police knew her only by her alias or religious name, she said, she had been able (with some help by third parties) to obtain a passport and escape to Switzerland….

The CAT stated first that, contrary to Switzerland’s statement, there is a sustained pattern of violation of human rights in China. This, however, the CAT noted, would not be enough to find in favor of the complainant. It should be proved that the complainant is personally at risk of being tortured in China.

The CAT examined Switzerland’s objections that the complainant’s story was contradictory and that if she was really persecuted she should not have received a passport. The CAT found the story as told by the CAG sister coherent and believable enough. On the passport issue, which is frequently used to deny asylum to refugees from China, the CAT mentioned “one of the submitted professorial statements [Zoccatelli’s], according to which procuring a passport is possible if the person concerned has never been checked or had provided an alias during a check and profited from a delay in the registration of their fingerprints.

The statement also points out that there is a high level of corruption among Chinese officials that facilitates the procurement of passports, and that airport officials rarely check names and never check fingerprints. The Committee notes that the complainant states having availed herself of an alias and that she received help from third parties in procuring the documents, which is consistent with the abovementioned information.”

Finally, the CAT concluded that there is sufficient evidence of the “increasing incidence of persecution of Christians in China,” that torture is used, and that “it is reasonable to assume that the complainant’s removal to China would put her at risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The CAT requested Switzerland “to refrain from deporting the complainant while her application for asylum is being reviewed.”

Hopefully, this landmark decision will conclusively establish that members of “illegal” Christian groups, including (but not limited to) Christian new religious movements such as the CAG, are at risk of torture in China, and that immigration authorities and courts of law in democratic countries will take it into account.

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