Asylum, Iran, UTIAC

New Country Guidance on Iranian Converts to Christianity

In PS (Christianity – risk) Iran CG [2020] UKUT 46 (IAC) (20 February 2020), the Upper Tribunal has given the following country guidance:

  1. This country guidance applies to protection claims from Iranians who claim to have converted from Islam to Christianity.
  2. Insofar as they relate to non-ethnic Christians, this decision replaces the country guidance decisions in FS and Others (Iran – Christian Converts) Iran CG [2004] UKIAT 00303 and SZ and JM (Christians – FS confirmed) Iran CG [2008] UKAIT 00082 which are no longer to be followed.
  3. Decision makers should begin by determining whether the claimant has demonstrated that it is reasonably likely that he or she is a Christian.  If that burden is discharged the following considerations apply:

i) A convert to Christianity seeking to openly practice that faith in Iran would face a real risk of persecution.

ii) If the claimant would in fact conceal his faith, decision-makers should consider why.  If any part of the claimant’s motivation is a fear of such persecution, the appeal should be allowed.

iii)         If the claimant would choose to conceal his faith purely for other reasons (family pressure, social constraints, personal preference etc) then protection should be refused. The evidence demonstrates that private and solitary worship, within the confines of the home, is possible and would not in general entail a real risk of persecution. 

  1. In cases where the claimant is found to be insincere in his or her claimed conversion, there is not a real risk of persecution ‘in-country’. There being no reason for such an individual to associate himself with Christians, there is not a real risk that he would come to the adverse attention of the Iranian authorities. Decision-makers must nevertheless consider the possible risks arising at the ‘pinch point’ of arrival:

i) All returning failed asylum seekers are subject to questioning on arrival, and this will include questions about why they claimed asylum;

ii) A returnee who divulges that he claimed to be a Christian is reasonably likely to be transferred for further questioning;

iii)         The returnee can be expected to sign an undertaking renouncing his claimed Christianity. The questioning will therefore in general be short and will not entail a real risk of ill-treatment;

iv) If there are any reasons why the detention becomes prolonged, the risk of ill-treatment will correspondingly rise. Factors that could result in prolonged detention must be determined on a case by case basis. They could include but are not limited to:

a) Previous adverse contact with the Iranian security services;

b) Connection to persons of interest to the Iranian authorities;

c) Attendance at a church with perceived connection to Iranian house churches;

d) Overt social media content indicating that the individual concerned has actively promoted Christianity.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s