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Located in Kabul, Afghanistan, CAPS is an independent, research centre that strives to conduct action-oriented research which will influence policy-makers. It works diligently towards building local capacity to produce conflict and threat assessments that will influence the safety and security of the people serving the governments, and international aid organizations.
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Regional News
Jan 31, 2008
MT (AFGHANISTAN) v HOME SECRETARY

Afghanistan - Asylum seekers - Christianity - Persecution - Religions - Conversion from Muslim to Christianity - Risk of persecution if returned

FACTS

The appellant asylum seeker (T) appealed against a decision of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal dismissing his appeal against the refusal of the respondent secretary of state to allow his claim for asylum. T, who was an Afghan national of Muslim faith, had had his claim for asylum refused. However T was not removed from the UK. T then converted to the Mormon faith and became a member of the priesthood. He made a fresh claim for asylum on the grounds that he faced a well founded fear of persecution as an apostate if returned to Afghanistan. The secretary of state again refused his claim and T appealed. The AIT determined that as the secretary of state had conceded the credibility of T’s conversion at a case management hearing he could not go behind it. However it dismissed T’s appeal and ruled that T faced no real risk of persecution if returned. On a reconsideration the AIT heard further evidence from an expert that T faced a real risk of attack by Islamic zealots if he was returned. The AIT held that the evidence did not show that Afghan authorities were prepared to pursue a prosecution against Christians for apostasy and that there had been no error of law in the immigration judge’s determination.

ISSUE

Whether the AIT had erred in finding that there was no evidence that T, who had converted to the Mormon faith whilst in the United Kingdom, was at risk of being tried and sentenced to death as an apostate if he was returned to Afghanistan.

HELD (appeal allowed)

(1) The AIT’s decision that the evidence not only failed to identify any risk to converts if returned but also affirmatively demonstrated there was no risk was wholly untenable. On the evidence available it was possible for a convert to be tried and sentenced to death in Afghanistan as an apostate. T’s case was remitted for reconsideration.

(2) (Obiter) Given the fact that T had converted his religion shortly after the failure of his first asylum claim it was extraordinary that the secretary of state had conceded the credibility of his conversion. Where an asylum seeker converted to Christianity it was incumbent on the Home Office to keep the issue open so that if there was an appeal the issue could be properly explored and the evidence tested, Shirazi v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2003] EWCA Civ 1562, [2004] 2 All ER 602 considered.

(Source: Rimer LJJ, "MT (AFGHANISTAN) v HOME SECRETARY", Telegraph, 18 January 2008)




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