Today, the United Nations (U.N.) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) published their opinion regarding the wrongful detention of our client, Pastor Andrew Brunson.
Pastor Brunson was an American citizen who was wrongfully detained in Turkey for over two years because of his Christian faith. He was released in October 2018, after we engaged in a multi-pronged global legal advocacy campaign. As part of our advocacy effort to secure his freedom we asked the WGAD to consider his case.
I was able to meet with the WGAD last year in Geneva to personally advance Pastor Brunson’s complaint and shortly after our meeting, they decided to investigate the case. We filed voluminous responses and accompanying evidence to Turkey’s submissions and updated the WGAD as Pastor Brunson’s case progressed. The WGAD reviewed all of the documents and found Turkey guilty of arbitrarily detaining Pastor Brunson. The WGAD’s official opinion, released today, provides: “The Working Group is therefore of the view that the [ACLJ] has made a credible submission that the arrest and detention of Mr. Brunson was the result of him being targeted by the Turkish authorities on the basis of his nationality and faith and thus resulted from discrimination expressly prohibited under the Covenant.” The Working Group concluded that:
In the light of the foregoing, the Working Group renders the following opinion:
The deprivation of liberty of Andrew Craig Brunson, being in contravention of articles 3, 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is arbitrary and falls within categories I, III and V.
The Working Group requests the Government of Turkey to take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Brunson without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, including those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Working Group considers that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to expunge Mr. Brunson’s criminal record and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.
The Working Group urges the Government to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Brunson and to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.
We are extremely grateful for the thorough investigation and opinion of the WGAD, and hope that Turkey follows their recommendation of expunging Pastor Brunson’s record and makes appropriate reparations.
We will continue to work at the U.N. and with the WGAD on behalf of other persecuted Christians across the globe.
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