Dutch court: Iranian authorities insufficiently protect (potential) victims of honor-related violence

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An Iranian refugee had stated in her asylum application in the Netherlands that she had fled her country because her brother, who had threatened her on a (false) charge of adultery, had been released from prison. The State Secretary replied that she could have asked the Iranian authorities to protect her from her brother.

The Utrecht District Court ruled on 21 April that the State Secretary was not entitled to take the position that the foreign national could seek protection from the Iranian authorities for the threats made by her brother, as there was considerable doubt about that assumption.

The District Court upheld the foreign national's appeal, so that the State Secretary had to reassess this asylum application.

In support of its ruling, the District Court referred to the new information from the official notice on Iran dated February 2021. This official report is particularly negative about the way the Iranian authorities deal with honor-related violence.

For example, the official report expresses suspicion that the Iranian authorities sometimes classify honor killings as disappearances, accidents, suicides, or suspicious deaths, and the case of Romina Ashrafi illustrates what is generally the response of the authorities when someone seeks protection from honor-related violence.

Romina Ashrafi had run away from home with her 35-year-old boyfriend after her father did not give permission for their marriage. Five days later, they were arrested by the police. Although Romina had complained to the police and the court about her father's violent behavior, her father was allowed to come and pick her up. Her father then beheaded her in her bedroom in the middle of the night. He received only nine years in prison for this.

What is an honour killing?

An honour killing is a murder in the name of honour. If a brother murders his sister to restore family honour, it is an honour killing. According to activists, the most common reasons for honour killings are as the victim:

Questions about honour killings

  • refuses to cooperate in an arranged marriage.

  • wants to end the relationship.

  • was the victim of rape or sexual assault.

  • was accused of having a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

Human rights activists believe that 100,000 honour killings are carried out every year, most of which are not reported to the authorities and some are even deliberately covered up by the authorities themselves, for example because the perpetrators are good friends with local policemen, officials or politicians. Violence against girls and women remains a serious problem in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Serbia and Turkey.

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