CLAAS meets Dutch government minister to discuss Pakistani Christians

On February 25 CLAAS’ Directors Joseph Francis and Nasir Saeed met the state secretary of security and justice and minister for migration Mr. Fred Teeven in Den Hague.

CLAAS briefed the minister, and other officers present, about the ongoing situation of Christians in general, and in particular on the misuse of the blasphemy law to persecute Christians and ransack churches, burn Christian towns and villages, imprison Christians arbitrarily, and even kill them before giving them the chance to prove their innocence.

Mr. Francis, National director, CLAAS-PK, told how Christians are living in constant fear and uncertainty, and escaping to far-eastern countries to save their lives.

Mr. Francis also briefed about the issues being faced by Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in the Netherlands.

First of all it is very difficult to escape Pakistan and if someone does succeed, then they face many difficulties in obtaining asylum in the Netherlands and other European countries. Mr. Francis told the minister and his aides about how Christians are having difficulty proving their religion, and the documents they provide are sometimes considered fake. Additionally, sometimes their interviews are misinterpreted and thus asylum cases are refused. Mr. Francis also presented examples where the court had decided a case in favour of the asylum seeker, but where the IND had challenged it instead of accepting the court’s decision.

The minister asked a few questions which were answered very well by CLAAS. In the end Mr. Teeven asked if CLAAS have any recommendation for the government. Ms. Geesje Werkman form Kerk in Actie handed over the recommendations and Mr. Teeven told us that he cannot decide or promise anything now, but will pass them on to the parliament and will let us know the outcome.

Peter Bronsveld from Jubilee Campaign and Ms. Geesje Werkman form Kerk in Actie also joined CLAAS to support Pakistani Christian asylum seekers. The whole team is very hopeful that Christian asylum seekers’ cases will be dealt with with sympathy, and keeping in view the present situation and ongoing persecution of Christians in Pakistan.