Court: Afghans who served Soviets may be deported

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg Tuesday gave the Netherlands permission to deport five Afghan men living in the Netherlands for at least the past 15 years.

The lawsuits were filed by the Afghan men in question in five separate cases.

The Netherlands wants to deport the men because they all worked in relatively high positions for the Afghan authorities during Soviet rule. The Netherlands' standpoint is that anyone who worked in a position of authority for the Soviet government had to at least be aware that human rights violations were taking place, if not involved in the violations themselves, which means they are not eligible for asylum.

The men's standpoint was that the Netherlands would be putting them in direct danger by sending them back to their own, unsafe country. By doing so the Netherlands violates Article 3 of the human rights treaty, which prohibits a government sending an individual back to a country if the person concerned faces a real risk of inhumane treatment.

The court ruled in favor of the Netherlands. According to the court, the men failed to conclusively prove that there is a "real risk" that their lives would be in danger if returned to Afghanistan. "The mere possibility of ill-treatment on account of an unsettled situation in the requesting country does not in itself give rise to a breach of Article 3." The court also decided that the situation in Afghanistan is no longer so unstable that there is a real risk of ill-treatment "simply by virtue of an individual being returned there".

The Netherlands can deport the men once the ruling becomes effective. This will be in three months time, unless the men appeal.