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Apostasy or Conversion
Resource Person: Frances Webber Email: francesgwebber@googlemail.com Frances Webber is a retired immigration and refugee barrister, formerly at Garden Court Chambers, London, and currently a part-time visiting lecturer at Warwick University (refugee law) and Birkbeck College, University of London (critical legal practice), general editor of Butterworths Immigration Law Service, a council member of the Institute of Race Relations (London) and contributor to the IRR Race and Refugee News Service. The following is her introduction to the topic. Below that are contacts for Professor Marshall, who is prepared to assist with specific country of origin information for persons seeking asylum on grounds of conversion, and Middle East Concern, an organization devoted the human rights of religious minorities. This report from the Pew Research Center will be extremely useful to Refugee Status Determination adjudicators working on apostacy cases.

Introduction
Apostasy is conversion to another religion or simply renouncing one’s own religion. The Greek word used is ‘apostasia’, meaning ‘a falling away, defection, forsaking’. It can found a claim for refugee status if penalised severely (formally or informally), giving rise to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of religion. Apostasy can occur in relation to any religion, but currently, in the context of refugee law, it is generally used in relation to Islam. This is because in some Islamic countries, the penalty for apostasy is death. A Shi’ite Muslim pronouncement on apostasy (from Kayhan International, March 1986) includes the following: An apostate - that is, one who abandons Islam and takes up atheism - may be of two types:

a. Voluntary apostate: a person whose parents, or either of them, were Muslim at the time of his or her development in the mother's womb and who takes up atheism after growing up. b. Innate apostate: a person who is born of atheist parents and who accepts Islam after growing up, but returns to atheism later. The penalty for voluntary apostasy for a man is to lose one's wife and possessions, and (if he does not repent) his life. Innate apostates do not lose their possessions but otherwise the penalty is the same. Female apostates are not executed but imprisoned. A Sunni Muslim pronouncement does not make these distinctions (either gender or voluntary/innate), but states that ‘Now, should the apostate (male or female) persist in his apostasy, he should be given the opportunity to repent, prior to his being put to death, out of respect for his Islam.’ (Mufti of Lebanon, Beirut, Fatwa issued 13 November 1989) Apostasy and a Period for Repentance In most schools (of Islam), the apostate is given the chance to return from error and follow the ordained path. If this is not done, he or (according to the Shi`a Imamiya) she will be executed. The period which is given to the apostate to return varies according to the schools but the Shi`a Imamiya are particularly harsh in that they say that whoever was born into Islam and turns away from it should be killed and no repentance accepted (Amnesty International, Law and Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 1980, MDE/13/03/80). Many Muslim countries do not impose the death penalty for apostasy, since there is debate among Islamic scholars about its propriety in the light of the Qu’ranic injunction against coercion in religion. In other Muslim countries, the death penalty is on the statute book but not implemented. There is also debate about what constitutes apostasy. As Susan Musarrat Akram points out in ‘Orientalism Revisited in Asylum and Refugee Claims’ (IJRL 12 (1):7 (2000)), persecution of ‘apostates’ tends to be a political rather than a religious matter, as with the Iranian regime’s persecution of Bahá’ís and Pakistan’s of Ahmadis.But where apostasy is severely penalised, the risk of punishment founds a claim of persecution for reason of religion under the 1951 Convention. Informal punishments by family and community members will also found a claim if state agents do not provide effective protection. Renunciation of Islam is not the only type of apostasy which may attract punishment (and therefore potential international protection). Goodwin-Gill (The Refugee in International Law, 2nd edition, 1996) refers to the serious discrimination faced by Jews in Israel converting to Christianity (p45, fn58). Many refugee claims based on apostasy are ‘sur place’ claims, i.e. the applicant was not a refugee on leaving his country of nationality or habitual residence, but since departure has converted or otherwise renounced his religion and claims to face a real risk of persecution on return.

International Human Rights Law: Freedom of Religion
The right to freedom of religion is in two parts: the right to belief (or unbelief) per se and the right to manifest the belief. International human rights law recognises the first as an absolute, non-derogable right, but the second may be subjected to proportionate limitations, to avoid, for example, improper proselytising in a society where different

religions co-exist (see for e.g. Kokkinakis v Greece Application no. 14307/88, 25/05/1993) On religious freedom, the US Supreme Court has said: ‘At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State’ (Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), at p. 851). The Canadian Supreme Court has said, ‘To compel religious practice by force of law deprives the individual of the fundamental right to choose his or her mode of religious experience, or lack thereof’ (Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, 2009 SCC 37, [92]).

Human Rights Instruments and Religious Freedom

Universal Declaration on Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) Article 18:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 (ICCPR) Article 18:

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. 2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice. 3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. 4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

General Comment No. 22: The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Art. 18) 30/07/93 (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4):

1. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (which includes the freedom to hold beliefs) in article 18.1 is far-reaching and profound; it encompasses freedom of thought on all matters, personal conviction and the commitment to religion or belief, whether manifested individually or in community with others ... The fundamental character of these freedoms is also reflected in the fact that this provision cannot be

conscience and religion.. without a vote): Article 1 1. 2. health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. and shall be condemned as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enunciated in detail in the International Covenants on Human Rights. either individually or in community with others and in public or private. to manifest his religion or belief in worship. enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis. . for example. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.2 bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief. order.derogated from. including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to their religious beliefs and congregations. even in time of public emergency. to recant their religion or belief or to convert. Article 18. and as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between nations. • Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981. group of persons. Freedom to manifest one's religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety. exclusion. as stated in article 4. 5. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought. those restricting access to education. observance. as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. the expression "intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief" means any distinction. 2. 3. Article 3 Discrimination between human beings on the grounds of religion or belief constitutes an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. and freedom. The Committee observes that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief. including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views. For the purposes of the present Declaration. such as. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice. The same protection is enjoyed by holders of all beliefs of a non-religious nature.2 of the Covenant. practice and teaching.. or person on the grounds of religion or other belief. medical care. employment or the rights guaranteed by article 25 and other provisions of the Covenant. institution. restriction or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition. are similarly inconsistent with article 18. Article 2 1. Policies or practices having the same intention or effect. No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State.2.

and shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents or legal guardians. 5. acquire and use to an adequate extent the necessary articles and materials related to the rites or customs of a religion or belief. exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil. legal guardians. 4. respect for freedom of religion or belief of others. economic. 2. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding. and to take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion or other beliefs in this matter. . tolerance. The parents or. friendship among peoples. and to establish and maintain places for these purposes. the legal guardians of the child have the right to organize the life within the family in accordance with their religion or belief and bearing in mind the moral education in which they believe the child should be brought up. as the case may be. Article 6 In accordance with article 1 of the present Declaration. In the case of a child who is not under the care either of his parents or of legal guardians. paragraph 3. All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition. the best interests of the child being the guiding principle. conscience. the following freedoms: (a) To worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief. Every child shall enjoy the right to have access to education in the matter of religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of his parents or. as the case may be. the best interests of the child being the guiding principle. 2. and subject to the provisions of article 1. religion or belief shall include.Article 4 1. inter alia . 3. political. of the present Declaration. due account shall be taken of their expressed wishes or of any other proof of their wishes in the matter of religion or belief. All States shall make all efforts to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination. peace and universal brotherhood. taking into account article 1. (b) To establish and maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions. The child shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the ground of religion or belief. social and cultural life. and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men. Article 5 1. Practices of a religion or belief in which a child is brought up must not be injurious to his physical or mental health or to his full development. paragraph 3. (c) To make. the right to freedom of thought.

this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom.1) includes communications to the Indonesian and Iranian governments over their treatment of Baha’is. or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.htm. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety. Article 8 Nothing in the present Declaration shall be construed as restricting or derogating from any right defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights. A Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief reports annually to the Human Rights Council. In addition. and the annual summaries of communications of the SR and governments’ responses are published on the same website. Article 7 The rights and freedoms set forth in the present Declaration shall be accorded in national legislation in such a manner that everyone shall be able to avail himself of such rights and freedoms in practice. health or morals. A recent report (A/HRC/7/10/Add. either alone or in community with others and in public or private. to manifest his religion or belief. conscience and religion. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought. Article 9: Freedom of thought. (g) To train.org/english/issues/religion/annual. for the protection of public order. (e) To teach a religion or belief in places suitable for these purposes.ohchr. (i) To establish and maintain communications with individuals and communities in matters of religion and belief at the national and international levels. issue and disseminate relevant publications in these areas. practice and observance. 2. see http://www2. in worship. For the annual reports. Regional Instruments • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 (ECHR). appoint. conscience and religion 1.(d) To write. (f) To solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions from individuals and institutions. elect or designate by succession appropriate leaders called for by the requirements and standards of any religion or belief. teaching. the Special Rapporteur regularly sends communications to governments on these issues. . (h) To observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one's religion or belief. the Commission and the General Assembly on the state of religious tolerance and discrimination throughout the world.

and freedom to profess or disseminate one's religion or beliefs. 4. • Arab Charter on Human Rights (adopted by the League of Arab States on 15 September 1994) (in force March 2008) Article 26: Everyone has a guaranteed right to freedom of belief. the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed. subject to law and order. No one shall be subject to restrictions that might impair his freedom to maintain or to change his religion or beliefs. A/RES/63/191: Expresses its deep concern at serious human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran relating to. The Declaration expressly subjects all the rights and freedoms contained within it to the Islamic Shari’ah (Art 24). practice or teaching. Article 8 Freedom of conscience. No restrictions shall be imposed on the exercise of freedom of belief. either individually or together with others. which is ‘the religion of unspoiled nature (Art 10. Article 12: Freedom of Conscience and Religion (adopted 22/11/1969. Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and of religion. thought and opinion. 24 February 2009. although it contains non-discrimination principles. Freedom to manifest one's religion and beliefs may be subject only to the limitations prescribed by law that are necessary to protect public safety. adopted at the 19th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Cairo on 5 August 1990. as the case may be. This places human rights within an Islamic context. 2. inter alia: . This right includes freedom to maintain or to change one's religion or beliefs. health. order. • 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. or morals. The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. No one may. without prejudice to the rights of others. Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran: resolution adopted by the General Assembly. in public or in private. UN Resolutions • UN General Assembly.• American Convention on Human Rights. prohibiting forced or exploitative conversion from Islam to another religion or atheism). Parents or guardians. be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms. 3. Article 27: Adherents of every religion have the right to practise their religious observances and to manifest their views through expression. As such. no protection is afforded to those forsaking Islam. thought and opinion except as provided by law. or the rights or freedoms of others. have the right to provide for the religious and moral education of their children or wards that is in accord with their own convictions. entry into force 18/7/1978) 1.

. to draw on Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the “Universal Declaration”) and Articles 18 and 27 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the “International Covenant”).. or way of life can be seen as so fundamental to human identity that one should not be compelled to hide. 5. b) religion as identity. religious belief. c) religion as a way of life.. the 1992 Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic. the Convention would give no protection from persecution for reasons of religion if it was a condition that the person affected must take steps – reasonable or otherwise – to avoid offending the wishes of the persecutors. Also relevant are the General Comments issued by the Human Rights Committee. identity and/or way of life. his or her religious belief.... Relevant areas of enquiry include the individual profile and personal experiences of the claimant. including the provision in the proposed draft penal code that sets out a mandatory death sentence for apostasy. including the effect on the individual concerned. take various forms. The right to freedom of thought. the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion or Belief. 14. Depending on the particular circumstances of the case. belong to or are identified with a particular religious community. or have changed their faith. or serious measures of discrimination imposed on individuals because they practise their religion. examples could include prohibition of membership of a religious community. it is therefore useful.(g) Severe limitations and restrictions on freedom of religion and belief. Claims based on “religion” may involve one or more of the following elements: a) religion as belief (including non-belief). identity. in communities in which a dominant religion exists or where there is a close correlation between the State and religious institutions. Religious and Linguistic Minorities and the body of reports of the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance. 13.. 28 April 2004): 2. of religious instruction. Applying the same standard as for other Convention grounds. of worship in community with others in public or in private. conscience and religion is one of the fundamental rights and freedoms in international human rights law. UNHCR Guidance on Religion-Based Claims • UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection No 6: Religion-Based Refugee Claims under Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (HCR/GIP/04/06. Each claim requires examination on its merits on the basis of the individual’s situation. 8 Equally. inter alia.. Bearing witness in words and deeds is often bound up with the existence of religious convictions. could amount to persecution in a particular case. change or renounce this in order to avoid persecution. Indeed. Persecution for reasons of religion may . 12. discrimination on account of one’s failure to adopt the dominant religion or to adhere to its practices. how . In determining religion-based claims.

Issues which the decision-maker will need to assess include the nature of and connection between any religious convictions held in the country of origin and those now held.. Restrictions have. An assessment of the implementation of such laws and their effect is in any case crucial to establishing persecution.important this is for the claimant.. particularly when taking account of the overall political and religious situation in the country of origin. In such situations. c) Conversion post departure 34. and the existence of corroborating evidence regarding involvement in and membership of the new religion. Where individuals convert after their departure from the country of origin. a distinction should be made between discrimination resulting merely in preferential treatment and discrimination amounting to persecution because. Forced compliance with religious practices … could rise to the level of persecution if it becomes an intolerable interference with the individual’s own religious belief. factor which therefore needs to be taken into account. his or her experience of this religion. “may well show that his [or her] fear that sooner or later he [or she] also will become a victim of persecution is well-founded”. although they can be an important. for example. what effect the restrictions have on the individual. or death for adultery). 22. . What. there may. whether these activities have been or could be brought to the attention of the persecutor and whether they could result in treatment rising to the level of persecution. Discrimination may take the form of restrictions or limitations on religious belief or practice. the nature of his or her role and activities within the religion. imprisonment for blasphemy or practising an alternative religion. 17.. because of its position on gender issues or sexual orientation. his or her mental state. Mere membership of a particular religious community will normally not be enough to substantiate a claim to refugee status.… 19. for instance. happened to the claimant’s friends and relatives. identity or way of life and/or if non-compliance would result in disproportionate punishment. it would constitute persecution. that is to say to other similarly situated individuals. whether or not for adherents of the same religion. it seriously restricts the claimant’s enjoyment of fundamental human rights … 18. the well-founded fear “need not necessarily be based on the applicant’s own personal experience”. … Where the law imposes disproportionate punishment for breaches of the law (for example. As the UNHCR Handbook notes. even indicative. … For the purposes of analysing an asylum claim.. in aggregate or of itself. which may indicate a climate of genuine insecurity for the members of the religious community concerned. In this context. be special circumstances where mere membership suffices. particular credibility concerns tend to arise and a rigorous and in depth examination of the circumstances and genuineness of the conversion will be necessary. how the claimant came to know about the new religion in the country of asylum. The existence of discriminatory laws will not normally in itself constitute persecution. included penalties for converting to a different faith (apostasy) or for proselytising. this may have the effect of creating a sur place claim. however... for instance. other members of the same religious group. any disaffection with the religion held in the country of origin. 21.

In the event that the claim is found to be self-serving but the claimant nonetheless has a well-founded fear of persecution on return. The Convention protects people in relation to the subject matter of religious belief. for example. 105 FCR 548 . Case Law: Refugee Claims Involving Apostasy The cases from the jurisdictions of Australia. however. the Federal Court of Appeal held that participation in communal religious rites could be an essential element of worship and deprivation of this by state authorities could be persecution. It does not protect believers and leave non-believers to the wolves. this could weigh heavily in the balance when considering potential durable solutions that may be available in such cases. So-called “self-serving” activities do not create a well-founded fear of persecution on a Convention ground in the claimant’s country of origin. if persons are persecuted because they do not hold religious beliefs. including the authorities there.35. Regard should therefore be had as to whether the conversion may come to the notice of the authorities of the person’s country of origin and how this is likely to be viewed by those authorities. Australia In Prashar v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs [2001] FCA 57 at [19] Madgwick J observed: ‘In my opinion. Rather. if the opportunistic nature of such activities will be apparent to all. however. as well as. international protection is required. [2000] FCA 1599. 62 ALD 373. Where the opportunistic nature of the action is clearly apparent. Where. 36. and/or where “coaching” or “mentoring” of claimants is commonplace. however. testing of knowledge is of limited value. the type of residency status. New Zealand. the interviewer needs to ask open questions and try to elicit the motivations for conversion and what effect the conversion has had on the claimant’s life. systematic and organised conversions are carried out by local religious groups in the country of asylum for the purposes of accessing resettlement options. for example.’ In Wang v MIMA (2000) 179 ALR 1. The test remains. Canada. Some of the significant cases are summarised below. the UK and the US demonstrate a progressively more sophisticated approach to the problem of apostasy. and serious adverse consequences would not result if the person were returned. that is as much persecution for reasons of religion as if somebody were persecuting them for holding a positive religious belief. whether he or she would have a well-founded fear of persecution on a Convention ground if returned. . Both the specific circumstances in the country of asylum and the individual case may justify additional probing into particular claims. consideration must be given as to the consequences of return to the country of origin and any potential harm that might justify refugee status or a complementary form of protection. Under all circumstances. Detailed country of origin information is required to determine whether a fear of persecution is objectively wellfounded. which now looks closely at the situation on the ground for converts and the pronouncements of prominent political and religious figures as well as the penal code in the country concerned.

’ . Gray J. [P]erhaps a person who has committed a capital offence of apostasy under Iranian law may be fortunate enough to escape the consequence of that conduct if returned to Iran. persecution does not cease to be persecution for the purpose of the Convention because those persecuted can eliminate the harm by taking avoiding action within the country of nationality. At [80]: ‘If an applicant holds political or religious beliefs that are not favoured in the country of nationality. And to say to an applicant that he or she should be "discreet" about such matters is simply to use gentler terms to convey the same meaning. in the different context of sexual identity. can be taken into account in assessing the reality of a risk of persecution. apprehension and punishment would continue and it may be sufficient to ground a well-founded fear of persecution. Furthermore.’ In a line of cases. Woudneh v MILGEA. The question to be considered in assessing whether the applicant’s fear of persecution is well founded is what may happen if the applicant returns to the country of nationality. it is not. and the lack of adverse consequences. of course. proselytising or public worship were essential tenets of that faith). unreported.. but … the risk of discovery. on return. This conclusion was reaffirmed in Appellant S395/2002 v MIMA.. At [40]: ‘. G86 of 1988.A v MIMA [2002] FCA 148: ‘… [F]or an apostate. consistently with practising it (where. for example. and whether the fact of discretion. the persecution feared. the chance of adverse consequences befalling that applicant on return to that country would ordinarily increase if. Appellant S [2003] HCA 71 (2003) 78 ALJR 180 203 ALR 112 78 ALD 8. the risk of extreme punishment will always exist…. is not restricted to execution and may include the suffering of substantial harm or interference with life by way of deprivation of liberty. The mere fact of the necessity to conceal actual or threatened infliction of punishment would amount to support for the proposition that the applicant had a wellfounded fear for reasons of religion. could the applicant live in that country without attracting adverse consequences. the applicant were to draw attention to the holding of the relevant belief. where it was re-stated that persecution does not cease to be persecution because those persecuted can eliminate the harm by taking avoiding action. 16 September 1988 (Ethiopian Marxist who became a born-again Christian): in the absence of evidence that an applicant could conceal his faith. the Australian courts have considered the issue of discretion in worship: whether discretion about unacceptable attributes (whether a particular religion or sexual orientation) can be demanded in order to avoid persecutory consequences. The Convention would give no protection from persecution for reasons of religion or political opinion if it was a condition of protection that the person affected must take steps – reasonable or otherwise – to avoid offending the wishes of the persecutors. But it is no answer to a claim for protection as a refugee to say to an applicant that those adverse consequences could be avoided if the applicant were to hide the fact that he or she holds the beliefs in question. assaults and continuing harassment on account of the perceived apostasy. The two issues have frequently been confused. it was not open to conclude that he would not be persecuted because his faith was unknown to the authorities.

not what he or she should do. The RRT had relied on country information which distinguished between ‘converts to Christianity who go about their devotions quietly and maintain a . even accepting that he is not an enthusiastic proselytiser or derider of Islam … [the Tribunal held] he can avoid persecution by restricting the disclosure of his religion and by restricting the conduct of his religion in anticipation or. – (2) If the Tribunal finds that a person will act in a way that will reduce a risk of persecution that would otherwise have been well-founded. by concentrating on the death penalty for apostasy (which had not been carried out for some years) the lower court had failed to have regard to lesser instances of persecutory action to which he might be subject. – (3) It will err if. is. recognises the likely existence of persecution unless his religion is practised in a limited way. if one likes. recognised by the Tribunal by his membership of an evangelical congregation on a genuine basis. despite the fact that those who practised the religion more publicly would face persecution. the Federal Court said: ‘the applicant's faith. the Tribunal must consider why the person will act in that way . there is still a real risk that the person will be persecuted. In SGKB v MIMIA [2003] FCAFC 44 76 ALD 381. carries with it necessarily.if it fails to do so.its task is to assess what the applicant will do. despite the conduct that reduces the risk. having found that a person will act in a way that will reduce a risk of persecution. a sur place claim based on conversion from Islam to Christianity in Australia. but the full Court held that it had not considered the risk of discovery or exposure. unless there is evidence or. the Tribunal was not required to adjudge their claim on the basis that they would seek to profess it publicly. it commits a jurisdictional error. could be taken into account as an indication that she would not face persecution on return. the elements of manifestation and practice in community with others. it does not go on to consider whether the person nevertheless has a well-founded fear of persecution because. findings. and that such practice meant no adverse consequences. further. I think. To say that if he keeps a "low profile" and worships "quietly" or "cautiously" or "circumspectly". perhaps more accurately. in my view. the lower court had held that a Christian convert would not face persecution as he would not disclose his conversion. In Applicant NABD of 2002 v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs [2005] HCA 29. in fear of the consequences if he did otherwise.In NAEB v MIMIA [2004] FCAFC 79 the Federal Court of Appeal held that the fact that the appellant practised her religion discreetly. to the contrary. the High Court held (by majority) that where someone’s faith did not require proselytising or other strong outward manifestation. to deny the applicant a dimension to his faith. In Farajvand v MIMA [2001] FCA 795. In Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs v VWBA [2005] FCAFC 175 the Full Court by a majority held that the principles in S395/2002 v MIMA (above) were as follows: – (1) The Tribunal will err if it assesses a claim on the basis that an applicant is expected to take reasonable steps to avoid persecution if returned to his or her country of origin . the Federal Court held that the Tribunal had failed to consider the risk of persecution through attending public worship.’ In W441/01A v MIMA [2002] FCA 453. where a Tribunal had held that an Armenian Christian who had converted to Islam and then re-converted would not face persecution as there was no evidence he would seek to proselytise. This. with respect.

071246761. 18 November 1988: The Board accepted the principle that refugee protection could appropriately be extended to persons with an apprehension of persecution due to their decision to change their religion. [2007] RRTA 147. with whom he had a daughter. Canada Adel Mohammed Bakr Mohamed.R. available at: http://www. 2003 FC 1266. would face persecution on return to Bangladesh with his partner and daughter. 9 July 2007.org/refworld/docid/4b1cdf762. due to a perception that to behave more openly or aggressively would leave him at risk of persecution. Ghasemian v.ca/en/2003/2003fc1266/2003fc1266. all Iranian. Held: this conclusion was open to it on the evidence. based partly on conversion to Catholicism. were genuine and well founded.B. while not finding such a situation in the instant case. her guardian/ de facto mother and that woman’s husband and minor son.unhcr.gc. New Zealand . 30 October 2009. available at: http://www. available at: http://decisions.unhcr. the consequential imputation of apostasy by the authorities in Iran may nonetheless be sufficient to bring an applicant within the scope of the convention definition.html: On a judicial review of refusal of an asylum claim based on conversion to Christianity in Iran. the Federal Court held that while the Board was entitled to disbelieve the appellants’ account of conversion and persecution in Iran. RRT Case No.html: The RRT held that a Hazara who has clearly been living in a Western country and whose behaviour and appearance are those of a person with opinions at odds with those of the Taliban faced a real risk of serious physical harm as a perceived apostate by local people and that state authorities would be unable to provide effective protection. 19 February 2007.fct-cf. and having a child born out of wedlock. Australia: Refugee Review Tribunal. 2000 CanLII 21312 (I. of being in a relationship with someone of different religion and race. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration). Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration).org/refworld/docid/47f379342. It had found that any decision by the appellant to avoid proselytising in Iran or of actively seeking attention on matters of religion was not inconsistent with his beliefs and practices and he would not be constrained in the practice of his avowed faith in Iran. X (Re). Mohajery and Ors v.html: Even if motives for conversion are not genuine.low profile [who] are generally not disturbed’ and persons involved in ‘aggressive outreach through proselytising by adherents of some more fundamental faiths’. Canada: Federal Court. The minority held that the majority had again fallen into the error of confusing fear of persecution with avoidance of adverse consequences. 2007 FC 185. 0902782. [2009] RRTA 968. available at: http://www. it had failed to deal with the sur place claim arising out of their Christian activities in Canada and the risk this might give rise to in Iran.): The claims of a child found in an orphanage. RRT Case No.org/refworld/docid/48abd5600.html: The RRT held that a non-practising Muslim who was in a relationship with a Catholic Filipina woman of Chinese origin. V87-6168 (IRB).unhcr. owing to the combined effect of not practising.

unhcr. available at: http://www. participating in bible study. 73945. and (4) Christianity is an officially recognised religion in Iran.html: Iranian’s claimed conversion to Christianity was not genuine but the publicity given to his case in New Zealand and overseas by his supporters has identified him as an apostate. executions are not now performed in practice and have not been since the mid 1990s.org/refworld/docid/4a76b1e52.000 Muslim converts.org/refworld/docid/4a5dd3f22.html: Iranian apostate convert to Christianity who sent Christian materials back to sister in Iran had well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of religion. 5 October 2009. available at: http://www. for which he faces a real risk of persecution. 76367. High Court. available at: http://www.org/refworld/docid/48ef71942. amounting to persecution. suffered a real chance of persecution because their conversion had come to the attention of Iranian authorities through attending a church. and not being capable or willing to confine the practice of their religion in attending a place of worship to the private realm. (2) mere apostates who do not publicly proselytise face minor intimidation and harassment such as loss of employment. (Referred to in F v.Refugee Appeal No 74911 (1 September 2004). having a genuine and on-going commitment to the Christian faith. as there are no churches. Refugee Appeal Nos 76083-5 (27 June 2008). (3) an apostate is at remote risk of persecution either through lengthy detention or coupled with serious mistreatment. ‘It is ironic that the appellant’s supporters. NZRSAA.html) Refugee Appeal No. available at: http://www. [2008] NZHC 788. sharing their faith with others in their personal. . being unaware of the true facts.html: An Egyptian Coptic Christian who was forcibly converted to Islam and has since re-converted to Christianity faced a real risk of persecution on return to Egypt since a replacement ID card would disclose not just his (Christian) religion but also the fact that he formerly embraced Islam. Refugee Appeal No 75368-71 (12 July 2005).html: A Saudi convert to Christianity would have difficulty manifesting his religion. NZRSAA. if they do so in an unobtrusive manner.unhcr. New Zealand: Refugee Status Appeals Authority: (1) while conversion from Islam to Christianity is considered apostasy under Sharia law in Iran and is punishable in principle by death. checking of identities at church and official summonses for questioning and reprimanding for being influenced to reconvert to Islam. wishing to pray and worship in a free and unrestrained manner. available at: http://www. Refugee Appeal No. 28 May 2008. NZRSAA. Refugee Appeal No 75376 (11 September 2006). with about 15.org/refworld/docid/4afc2f602. have inadvertently created the grounds for a refugee claim which was otherwise without foundation and fraudulent. and one whose conversion was known to the authorities faced a real chance of serious harm in the form of arbitrary detention. 16 February 2009.org/refworld/docid/4ad4ad242. will avoid serious problems. Refugee Appeal No. 27 June 2006: The appellants. Iranian converts.unhcr. who are able to practice their Christianity and who. 76204. serious physical mistreatment and long-term harassment. Refugee Status Appeals Authority and Minister of Immigration.unhcr. work and school spheres. 76385. Refugee Appeal No. 29 June 2009. 76219. 17 September 2009.’ Refugee Appeal No. NZRSAA. being evangelical and proselytising in a manner consistent with their respective personalities. attending an evangelical church similar to the one they presently attend. NZRSAA.unhcr.

unhcr.unhcr.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/1999/3003. 17 November 2004. The proposals are still before Parliament. 12 November 2008. Secretary of State for the Home Department. To deprive him. as a convert to Roman Catholicism. pastor. available at: http://www.Christian Converts) Iran v. who would be able to practise Christianity (including attending church) without untoward risk. It remains to be seen whether the proposed inclusion of apostasy in the amended criminal code will make a material difference. 1990): An Egyptian Claimant lost his claim based on conversion to Christianity on the basis that there was nothing in Egyptian law . as an actively practising Roman Catholic. United States Elnager v INS 930 F.html: A distinction was drawn between the ordinary discreet convert to Protestant Christianity. United Kingdom Secretary of State for the Home Department v Ahmed[1999] EWCA Civ 3003: Pakistani Ahmadi (considered apostate by authorities and by mainstream Muslims) who intended to propagate his beliefs faced a real risk of religious persecution. who would be at real risk.org/refworld/docid/491af9092.exposing him to official harassment (including arbitrary detention and ill-treatment) and informal acts of violence as an apostate. It would partially suppress his religious identity. Held: JM qualified for refugee status. proselytiser or evangelist. FS and Others (Iran . would not be able to practise his religion in Iran on return.bailii. SZ and JM (Christians .2d 784 (9th circuit. Secretary of State for the Home Department. Conditions for Christians in Iran have not deteriorated sufficiently to necessitate a change in the guidance in FS and others (Iran Christian Converts)(above).FS Confirmed) Iran v. entitled him to refugee status. The amendments to the code are part of a wholesale change in the criminal law and not solely aimed at converts.bailii. and any of the accepted essential elements of that sacramental religion. United Kingdom: Asylum and Immigration Tribunal / Immigration Appellate Authority. and generally the situation of ordinary converts to Christianity did not amount to persecution.org/refworld/docid/42c934fb4. of any meaningful contact with his church. UK AIT/IAA. available at: http://www. CG[2008] UKAIT 00082.html: Great caution [was] appropriate in deciding on the genuineness of conversions from Islam to Christianity in the context of refugee claims based on apostasy. http://www. NM (Christian Converts) Afghanistan CG [2009] UKAIT 00045: An Afghan claimant who can demonstrate that he has genuinely converted to Christianity from Islam is likely to be able to show that he is at real risk of serious ill-treatment amounting to persecution or a breach of his Article 3 ECHR rights on return to Afghanistan. church leader.html Shirazi v Secretary of State for the Home Department[2003] EWCA Civ 1562 (06 November 2003)(UK Court of Appeal) http://www. is to require him to live a life that he could not reasonably be expected to tolerate. But the appellant JM. and the more active convert. CG [2004] UKIAT 00303.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2003/1562. 'Proselytising' and 'evangelising' are not terms of art and distinctions should not be drawn between them.html: The distinction drawn in FS and others (above) still held good.

and there was a tradition of tolerance for religious minorities and for religious conversion there. Prohibited Identities: State Interference with Religious Freedom. Washington DC Tel: 20 22 56 38 90 Email: pmarshall@hudson. Bastanipour v INS 980 F.or policy mandating any penalty for conversion. which leads interviewers to focus more on objectively observable signs of religious faith such as church attendance. Kagan reveals that over three-quarters of UNHCR's refusals of religion-based refugee claims are based on negative credibility assessment. 9. It is an Association of established Christian agencies and individuals advocating the human rights of the Christian communities in the Middle East and North Africa. 1992): The Iranian Claimant’s apostasy. CMRS Working Paper No. Kagan shows some of the pitfalls of attempting to test religious belief through testing religious knowledge. Resources Michael Kagan. combined with his drugs conviction in the US and his brother’s oppositional activities. United Kingdom Tel: +44 15 09 23 94 00 Fax: +44 87 01 34 83 12 Email through their website Middle East Concern (MEC) is based in the Middle East. Using a sample of transcripts of refugee status determination (RSD) interviews by UNHCR in Cairo. He offers as a better approach the 'eyes of the persecutor' perspective.cgi?c=1489 PO Box 2 Loughborough LE11 3BG. Hudson Institute.givengain. Organizations Middle East Concern http://www. 2007 .org . analysing some of the assumptions behind such questioning (such as the assumption that a genuine believer is likely to be more knowledgeable about matters of religious doctrine than a religious imposter). Paul Marshall Senior Fellow. Refugee credibility assessment and the “religious imposter” problem: A case study of Eritrean Pentecostal claims in Egypt. combined to give rise to a well-founded fear of persecution in Iran.2d 1129 (7th circuit.com/cgi-bin/giga.An important and useful paper on the problems of assessing the credibility of claims to be members of persecuted religious minorities. within the general human rights context in the region. The American University in Cairo. December 2009 . Human Rights Watch / Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. Leicestershire.A report which highlights administrative discrimination on religious grounds in Egypt. Center for Religious Freedom.

Paul Marshall is the author and editor of over twenty books. Oxford University Press). United Kingdom Skip to main content Fahamu Refugee Programme Enter your keywords • About Us • Legal Resources • Refugee Resources • Other Resources • Special Issues • Training • Newsletter Apostasy or Conversion . which details the growing effects of blasphemy and apostasy laws and accusations. Translate this On this page • Introduction • International Human Rights Law: Freedom of Religion o Human Rights Instruments and Religious Freedom o Regional Instruments o UN Resolutions o UNHCR Guidance on Religion-Based Claims • Case Law: Refugee Claims Involving Apostasy • Resources o Organizations o Paul Marshall Share Contact | What's new | Get Involved | Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | List-serv The Fahamu Refugee Programme is a registered PLC in England and Wales. Amongst his books that deal with this issue in the are Radical Islam’s Rules (2005). the general editor of Religious Freedom in the World. 8232075 298 Banbury Rd Flat 2. Company No. apostasy and insulting religion accusations in the Muslim majority world. Religious Freedom in the World: A Global Survey (2008) and Silenced: How Blasphemy and Apostasy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide (2011. OX2 7ED. Oxford.Dr. and is an expert on the effects of blasphemy.

in the context of refugee law. b. Below that are contacts for Professor Marshall. London.that is.Resource Person: Frances Webber Email: francesgwebber@googlemail. prior to his being put to death. If this is not done. a council member of the Institute of Race Relations (London) and contributor to the IRR Race and Refugee News Service. and Middle East Concern. giving rise to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of religion. but states that ‘Now. defection. This report from the Pew Research Center will be extremely useful to Refugee Status Determination adjudicators working on apostacy cases. were Muslim at the time of his or her development in the mother's womb and who takes up atheism after growing up. Apostasy can occur in relation to any religion.may be of two types: a. The period which is given to the apostate to return varies according to .com Frances Webber is a retired immigration and refugee barrister. should the apostate (male or female) persist in his apostasy. Female apostates are not executed but imprisoned. and currently a part-time visiting lecturer at Warwick University (refugee law) and Birkbeck College. the apostate is given the chance to return from error and follow the ordained path. Introduction Apostasy is conversion to another religion or simply renouncing one’s own religion. Innate apostates do not lose their possessions but otherwise the penalty is the same. Voluntary apostate: a person whose parents. he or (according to the Shi`a Imamiya) she will be executed. out of respect for his Islam. one who abandons Islam and takes up atheism . or either of them. It can found a claim for refugee status if penalised severely (formally or informally). A Sunni Muslim pronouncement does not make these distinctions (either gender or voluntary/innate). who is prepared to assist with specific country of origin information for persons seeking asylum on grounds of conversion. but currently. the penalty for apostasy is death. meaning ‘a falling away. but returns to atheism later. A Shi’ite Muslim pronouncement on apostasy (from Kayhan International. he should be given the opportunity to repent. Fatwa issued 13 November 1989) Apostasy and a Period for Repentance In most schools (of Islam). University of London (critical legal practice). forsaking’. The following is her introduction to the topic. it is generally used in relation to Islam. Innate apostate: a person who is born of atheist parents and who accepts Islam after growing up. The Greek word used is ‘apostasia’. formerly at Garden Court Chambers. Beirut. March 1986) includes the following: An apostate . general editor of Butterworths Immigration Law Service. an organization devoted the human rights of religious minorities. and (if he does not repent) his life.’ (Mufti of Lebanon. This is because in some Islamic countries. The penalty for voluntary apostasy for a man is to lose one's wife and possessions.

since there is debate among Islamic scholars about its propriety in the light of the Qu’ranic injunction against coercion in religion. of the universe. and of the mystery of human life. There is also debate about what constitutes apostasy. The Canadian Supreme Court has said. MDE/13/03/80). ‘To compel religious practice by force of law deprives the individual of the fundamental right to choose his or her mode of religious experience. As Susan Musarrat Akram points out in ‘Orientalism Revisited in Asylum and Refugee Claims’ (IJRL 12 (1):7 (2000)). Casey. 14307/88. improper proselytising in a society where different religions co-exist (see for e. as with the Iranian regime’s persecution of Bahá’ís and Pakistan’s of Ahmadis. non-derogable right. for example. Many Muslim countries do not impose the death penalty for apostasy. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State’ (Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. at p.the schools but the Shi`a Imamiya are particularly harsh in that they say that whoever was born into Islam and turns away from it should be killed and no repentance accepted (Amnesty International. 505 U. conscience and religion. to avoid.g. 851). of meaning. Many refugee claims based on apostasy are ‘sur place’ claims. February 1980. i.S. or lack thereof’ (Alberta v. Informal punishments by family and community members will also found a claim if state agents do not provide effective protection. 25/05/1993) On religious freedom. Goodwin-Gill (The Refugee in International Law. Human Rights Instruments and Religious Freedom • Universal Declaration on Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought. the death penalty is on the statute book but not implemented. the US Supreme Court has said: ‘At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence. either alone or in . persecution of ‘apostates’ tends to be a political rather than a religious matter. Kokkinakis v Greece Application no. 1996) refers to the serious discrimination faced by Jews in Israel converting to Christianity (p45. 2009 SCC 37. but the second may be subjected to proportionate limitations.e. In other Muslim countries. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony. 2nd edition.But where apostasy is severely penalised. fn58). Law and Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. but since departure has converted or otherwise renounced his religion and claims to face a real risk of persecution on return. this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief. International human rights law recognises the first as an absolute. [92]). the risk of punishment founds a claim of persecution for reason of religion under the 1951 Convention. and freedom. 833 (1992). International Human Rights Law: Freedom of Religion The right to freedom of religion is in two parts: the right to belief (or unbelief) per se and the right to manifest the belief. Renunciation of Islam is not the only type of apostasy which may attract punishment (and therefore potential international protection). the applicant was not a refugee on leaving his country of nationality or habitual residence.

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and. worship and observance. 3.. to manifest his religion or belief in teaching. medical care. 4.. conscience and religion. The Committee observes that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief. whether manifested individually or in community with others . without a vote): Article 1 1. personal conviction and the commitment to religion or belief. such as.. The fundamental character of these freedoms is also reflected in the fact that this provision cannot be derogated from. conscience and religion. as stated in article 4.2 of the Covenant. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought. observance. to manifest his religion or belief in worship. and freedom. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought. either individually or in community with others and in public or private. • General Comment No. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice. Article 18. Policies or practices having the same intention or effect. health. 2. 5. including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views. or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. conscience and religion (which includes the freedom to hold beliefs) in article 18. • Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981.1/Add. for example. as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 (ICCPR) Article 18: 1. and . are similarly inconsistent with article 18. The right to freedom of thought. employment or the rights guaranteed by article 25 and other provisions of the Covenant. when applicable. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.2. 18) 30/07/93 (CCPR/C/21/Rev.community with others and in public or private..4): 1. it encompasses freedom of thought on all matters. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety. practice and teaching.2 bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief. order. including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to their religious beliefs and congregations. practice. legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice. conscience and religion (Art. even in time of public emergency.1 is far-reaching and profound. those restricting access to education. The same protection is enjoyed by holders of all beliefs of a non-religious nature. 22: The right to freedom of thought. to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

economic. . 2. Article 2 1. either individually or in community with others and in public or private. All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition. Freedom to manifest one's religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice. or person on the grounds of religion or other belief. 2. Article 4 1.freedom. group of persons. as the case may be. The parents or. social and cultural life. practice and teaching. exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil. to manifest his religion or belief in worship. enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis. restriction or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition. the legal guardians of the child have the right to organize the life within the family in accordance with their religion or belief and bearing in mind the moral education in which they believe the child should be brought up. observance. Article 5 1. health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. and shall be condemned as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enunciated in detail in the International Covenants on Human Rights. Article 3 Discrimination between human beings on the grounds of religion or belief constitutes an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. and shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents or legal guardians. the expression "intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief" means any distinction. as the case may be. and to take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion or other beliefs in this matter. 2. exclusion. and as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between nations. legal guardians. 3. All States shall make all efforts to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination. the best interests of the child being the guiding principle. Every child shall enjoy the right to have access to education in the matter of religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of his parents or. institution. political. order. 2. No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State. For the purposes of the present Declaration.

and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men. Article 8 . acquire and use to an adequate extent the necessary articles and materials related to the rites or customs of a religion or belief. taking into account article 1. 5. conscience. paragraph 3. tolerance. paragraph 3. peace and universal brotherhood. religion or belief shall include. respect for freedom of religion or belief of others. issue and disseminate relevant publications in these areas. (b) To establish and maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions. due account shall be taken of their expressed wishes or of any other proof of their wishes in the matter of religion or belief. (d) To write. the right to freedom of thought. elect or designate by succession appropriate leaders called for by the requirements and standards of any religion or belief. The child shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the ground of religion or belief. inter alia . Practices of a religion or belief in which a child is brought up must not be injurious to his physical or mental health or to his full development. (e) To teach a religion or belief in places suitable for these purposes. the best interests of the child being the guiding principle. Article 7 The rights and freedoms set forth in the present Declaration shall be accorded in national legislation in such a manner that everyone shall be able to avail himself of such rights and freedoms in practice. (g) To train. (c) To make. of the present Declaration. (f) To solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions from individuals and institutions. (i) To establish and maintain communications with individuals and communities in matters of religion and belief at the national and international levels. the following freedoms: (a) To worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief. Article 6 In accordance with article 1 of the present Declaration. appoint. and subject to the provisions of article 1.3. (h) To observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one's religion or belief. and to establish and maintain places for these purposes. 4. In the case of a child who is not under the care either of his parents or of legal guardians. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding. friendship among peoples.

Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety. 3. or the rights or freedoms of others.1) includes communications to the Indonesian and Iranian governments over their treatment of Baha’is. practice and observance. Article 8 . 2. Freedom to manifest one's religion and beliefs may be subject only to the limitations prescribed by law that are necessary to protect public safety. see http://www2. For the annual reports. order. the Special Rapporteur regularly sends communications to governments on these issues. • American Convention on Human Rights. Regional Instruments • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 (ECHR). health or morals. A recent report (A/HRC/7/10/Add. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought. or morals.Nothing in the present Declaration shall be construed as restricting or derogating from any right defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights.ohchr. conscience and religion. Parents or guardians. This right includes freedom to maintain or to change one's religion or beliefs. conscience and religion 1. teaching.org/english/issues/religion/annual. either individually or together with others. 2. this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom. in public or in private. No one shall be subject to restrictions that might impair his freedom to maintain or to change his religion or beliefs. as the case may be. for the protection of public order. the Commission and the General Assembly on the state of religious tolerance and discrimination throughout the world. health. 4. Article 9: Freedom of thought.htm. or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. and freedom to profess or disseminate one's religion or beliefs. and the annual summaries of communications of the SR and governments’ responses are published on the same website. to manifest his religion or belief. In addition. have the right to provide for the religious and moral education of their children or wards that is in accord with their own convictions. A Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief reports annually to the Human Rights Council. either alone or in community with others and in public or private. • 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. entry into force 18/7/1978) 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and of religion. in worship. Article 12: Freedom of Conscience and Religion (adopted 22/11/1969.

As such. Religious and Linguistic Minorities and the body of reports of the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance. Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran: resolution adopted by the General Assembly. inter alia. adopted at the 19th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Cairo on 5 August 1990. inter alia: (g) Severe limitations and restrictions on freedom of religion and belief. • Arab Charter on Human Rights (adopted by the League of Arab States on 15 September 1994) (in force March 2008) Article 26: Everyone has a guaranteed right to freedom of belief. the 1992 Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic. it is therefore useful.. conscience and religion is one of the fundamental rights and freedoms in international human rights law. UN Resolutions • UN General Assembly. In determining religion-based claims. Article 27: Adherents of every religion have the right to practise their religious observances and to manifest their views through expression. to draw on Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the “Universal Declaration”) and Articles 18 and 27 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the “International Covenant”). No restrictions shall be imposed on the exercise of freedom of belief. thought and opinion. This places human rights within an Islamic context. practice or teaching. the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion or Belief. which is ‘the religion of unspoiled nature (Art 10. without prejudice to the rights of others.Freedom of conscience... The right to freedom of thought. The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. . including the provision in the proposed draft penal code that sets out a mandatory death sentence for apostasy. UNHCR Guidance on Religion-Based Claims • UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection No 6: Religion-Based Refugee Claims under Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (HCR/GIP/04/06. subject to law and order. Also relevant are the General Comments issued by the Human Rights Committee. although it contains non-discrimination principles.. the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed. no protection is afforded to those forsaking Islam. prohibiting forced or exploitative conversion from Islam to another religion or atheism). The Declaration expressly subjects all the rights and freedoms contained within it to the Islamic Shari’ah (Art 24). thought and opinion except as provided by law. 28 April 2004): 2. A/RES/63/191: Expresses its deep concern at serious human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran relating to. 24 February 2009. be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms. No one may.

other members of the same religious group. Persecution for reasons of religion may . of religious instruction. how important this is for the claimant. whether these activities have been or could be brought to the attention of the persecutor and whether they could result in treatment rising to the level of persecution. 13. 8 Equally. Mere membership of a particular religious community will normally not be enough to substantiate a claim to refugee status. b) religion as identity. what effect the restrictions have on the individual.. happened to the claimant’s friends and relatives. could amount to persecution in a particular case. religious belief. or serious measures of discrimination imposed on individuals because they practise their religion. examples could include prohibition of membership of a religious community. “may well show that his [or her] fear that sooner or later he [or she] also will become a victim of persecution is well-founded”. Bearing witness in words and deeds is often bound up with the existence of religious convictions. the nature of his or her role and activities within the religion. … For the purposes of analysing an asylum claim. c) religion as a way of life. that is to say to other similarly situated individuals. of worship in community with others in public or in private. the well-founded fear “need not necessarily be based on the applicant’s own personal experience”. Claims based on “religion” may involve one or more of the following elements: a) religion as belief (including non-belief). What. there may. Each claim requires examination on its merits on the basis of the individual’s situation. discrimination on account of one’s failure to adopt the dominant religion or to adhere to its practices. including the effect on the individual concerned.. Indeed. a distinction should be made between discrimination resulting merely in preferential treatment and discrimination amounting to persecution because. particularly when taking account of the overall political and religious situation in the country of origin. it seriously restricts the claimant’s enjoyment of fundamental human rights … 18. 12. change or renounce this in order to avoid persecution. for example. identity. the Convention would give no protection from persecution for reasons of religion if it was a condition that the person affected must take steps – reasonable or otherwise – to avoid offending the wishes of the persecutors. In this context. which may indicate a climate of genuine insecurity for the members of the religious community concerned. or way of life can be seen as so fundamental to human identity that one should not be compelled to hide. in aggregate or of itself.. take various forms. or have changed their faith....5. As the UNHCR Handbook notes. be special circumstances where mere membership suffices. Relevant areas of enquiry include the individual profile and personal experiences of the claimant. identity and/or way of life. even indicative. factor which therefore . 14. however. 17. Applying the same standard as for other Convention grounds. The existence of discriminatory laws will not normally in itself constitute persecution. his or her religious belief. although they can be an important. belong to or are identified with a particular religious community. Depending on the particular circumstances of the case. in communities in which a dominant religion exists or where there is a close correlation between the State and religious institutions.

whether or not for adherents of the same religion. Both the specific circumstances in the country of asylum and the individual case may justify additional probing into particular claims. The test remains. for instance. Where individuals convert after their departure from the country of origin. identity or way of life and/or if non-compliance would result in disproportionate punishment. his or her mental state. and serious adverse consequences would not result if the person were returned. if the opportunistic nature of such activities will be apparent to all. the interviewer needs to ask open questions and try to elicit the motivations for conversion and what effect the conversion has had on the claimant’s life. 22..needs to be taken into account. imprisonment for blasphemy or practising an alternative religion. for instance. Forced compliance with religious practices … could rise to the level of persecution if it becomes an intolerable interference with the individual’s own religious belief. Regard should therefore be had as to whether the conversion may come to the notice of the authorities of the person’s country of origin and how this is likely to be viewed by those authorities. his or her experience of this religion. consideration must be given as to the consequences of return to the country of origin and any potential harm that might justify refugee status or a complementary form of protection.… 19. Rather. 21. whether he or she would have a well-founded fear of persecution on a Convention ground if returned. it would constitute persecution. testing of knowledge is of limited value... Restrictions have. 35.. In such situations. how the claimant came to know about the new religion in the country of asylum. for example. included penalties for converting to a different faith (apostasy) or for proselytising. Where. including the authorities there. however. Under all circumstances. In the event that the claim is found to be self-serving . this may have the effect of creating a sur place claim. 36. particular credibility concerns tend to arise and a rigorous and in depth examination of the circumstances and genuineness of the conversion will be necessary. So-called “self-serving” activities do not create a well-founded fear of persecution on a Convention ground in the claimant’s country of origin. systematic and organised conversions are carried out by local religious groups in the country of asylum for the purposes of accessing resettlement options.. An assessment of the implementation of such laws and their effect is in any case crucial to establishing persecution.. c) Conversion post departure 34. take the form of restrictions or limitations on religious belief or practice. Issues which the decision-maker will need to assess include the nature of and connection between any religious convictions held in the country of origin and those now held. … Where the law imposes disproportionate punishment for breaches of the law (for example. because of its position on gender issues or sexual orientation. however. any disaffection with the religion held in the country of origin. and the existence of corroborating evidence regarding involvement in and membership of the new religion. Detailed country of origin information is required to determine whether a fear of persecution is objectively wellfounded. Discrimination may . and/or where “coaching” or “mentoring” of claimants is commonplace. or death for adultery).

that is as much persecution for reasons of religion as if somebody were persecuting them for holding a positive religious belief. is not restricted to execution and may include the suffering of substantial harm or interference with life by way of deprivation of liberty. if persons are persecuted because they do not hold religious beliefs. the Federal Court of Appeal held that participation in communal religious rites could be an essential element of worship and deprivation of this by state authorities could be persecution.but the claimant nonetheless has a well-founded fear of persecution on return. unreported. Where the opportunistic nature of the action is clearly apparent. proselytising or public worship were essential tenets of that faith).’ In a line of cases. which now looks closely at the situation on the ground for converts and the pronouncements of prominent political and religious figures as well as the penal code in the country concerned. this could weigh heavily in the balance when considering potential durable solutions that may be available in such cases. The two issues have frequently been confused.’ In Wang v MIMA (2000) 179 ALR 1. Furthermore. the UK and the US demonstrate a progressively more sophisticated approach to the problem of apostasy. A v MIMA [2002] FCA 148: ‘… [F]or an apostate. and the lack of adverse consequences. apprehension and punishment would continue and it may be sufficient to ground a well-founded fear of persecution. can be taken into account in assessing the reality of a risk of persecution. 62 ALD 373. The mere fact of the necessity to conceal actual or threatened infliction of . of course. consistently with practising it (where. Woudneh v MILGEA. the risk of extreme punishment will always exist…. Case Law: Refugee Claims Involving Apostasy The cases from the jurisdictions of Australia. international protection is required. however. assaults and continuing harassment on account of the perceived apostasy. [2000] FCA 1599. the Australian courts have considered the issue of discretion in worship: whether discretion about unacceptable attributes (whether a particular religion or sexual orientation) can be demanded in order to avoid persecutory consequences. 16 September 1988 (Ethiopian Marxist who became a born-again Christian): in the absence of evidence that an applicant could conceal his faith. but … the risk of discovery. for example. New Zealand. Australia In Prashar v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs [2001] FCA 57 at [19] Madgwick J observed: ‘In my opinion. for example. Gray J. G86 of 1988. the persecution feared. as well as. and whether the fact of discretion. [P]erhaps a person who has committed a capital offence of apostasy under Iranian law may be fortunate enough to escape the consequence of that conduct if returned to Iran. It does not protect believers and leave non-believers to the wolves. The Convention protects people in relation to the subject matter of religious belief. Canada. 105 FCR 548 . it was not open to conclude that he would not be persecuted because his faith was unknown to the authorities. the type of residency status. Some of the significant cases are summarised below.

punishment would amount to support for the proposition that the applicant had a wellfounded fear for reasons of religion. could the applicant live in that country without attracting adverse consequences. recognises the likely existence of persecution unless his religion is practised in a limited way. But it is no answer to a claim for protection as a refugee to say to an applicant that those adverse consequences could be avoided if the applicant were to hide the fact that he or she holds the beliefs in question. where a Tribunal had held that an Armenian Christian who had converted to Islam and then re-converted would not face persecution . the elements of manifestation and practice in community with others.. carries with it necessarily. a sur place claim based on conversion from Islam to Christianity in Australia..’ In W441/01A v MIMA [2002] FCA 453. The Convention would give no protection from persecution for reasons of religion or political opinion if it was a condition of protection that the person affected must take steps – reasonable or otherwise – to avoid offending the wishes of the persecutors. where it was re-stated that persecution does not cease to be persecution because those persecuted can eliminate the harm by taking avoiding action. with respect. perhaps more accurately. despite the fact that those who practised the religion more publicly would face persecution. in my view. could be taken into account as an indication that she would not face persecution on return. to deny the applicant a dimension to his faith. unless there is evidence or. in the different context of sexual identity. the chance of adverse consequences befalling that applicant on return to that country would ordinarily increase if. At [40]: ‘. persecution does not cease to be persecution for the purpose of the Convention because those persecuted can eliminate the harm by taking avoiding action within the country of nationality. findings. This. the applicant were to draw attention to the holding of the relevant belief. and that such practice meant no adverse consequences. In Farajvand v MIMA [2001] FCA 795. to the contrary. on return. And to say to an applicant that he or she should be "discreet" about such matters is simply to use gentler terms to convey the same meaning. recognised by the Tribunal by his membership of an evangelical congregation on a genuine basis. it is not. To say that if he keeps a "low profile" and worships "quietly" or "cautiously" or "circumspectly". The question to be considered in assessing whether the applicant’s fear of persecution is well founded is what may happen if the applicant returns to the country of nationality. in fear of the consequences if he did otherwise.’ In NAEB v MIMIA [2004] FCAFC 79 the Federal Court of Appeal held that the fact that the appellant practised her religion discreetly. the Federal Court said: ‘the applicant's faith. even accepting that he is not an enthusiastic proselytiser or derider of Islam … [the Tribunal held] he can avoid persecution by restricting the disclosure of his religion and by restricting the conduct of his religion in anticipation or. if one likes. At [80]: ‘If an applicant holds political or religious beliefs that are not favoured in the country of nationality. Appellant S [2003] HCA 71 (2003) 78 ALJR 180 203 ALR 112 78 ALD 8. I think. This conclusion was reaffirmed in Appellant S395/2002 v MIMA. is.

30 October 2009. the lower court had held that a Christian convert would not face persecution as he would not disclose his conversion. available at: http://www. by concentrating on the death penalty for apostasy (which had not been carried out for some years) the lower court had failed to have regard to lesser instances of persecutory action to which he might be subject. It had found that any decision by the appellant to avoid proselytising in Iran or of actively seeking attention on matters of religion was not inconsistent with his beliefs and practices and he would not be constrained in the practice of his avowed faith in Iran. – (3) It will err if.its task is to assess what the applicant will do. the High Court held (by majority) that where someone’s faith did not require proselytising or other strong outward manifestation. further. would face persecution on return to Bangladesh with his partner and daughter. it commits a jurisdictional error. the Tribunal was not required to adjudge their claim on the basis that they would seek to profess it publicly. Australia: Refugee Review Tribunal. the Federal Court held that the Tribunal had failed to consider the risk of persecution through attending public worship. In SGKB v MIMIA [2003] FCAFC 44 76 ALD 381. – (2) If the Tribunal finds that a person will act in a way that will reduce a risk of persecution that would otherwise have been well-founded. the Tribunal must consider why the person will act in that way . of being in a relationship with someone of different religion and race. RRT Case No. In Applicant NABD of 2002 v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs [2005] HCA 29. with whom he had a daughter.html: The RRT held that a non-practising Muslim who was in a relationship with a Catholic Filipina woman of Chinese origin. 9 July 2007. but the full Court held that it had not considered the risk of discovery or exposure. Held: this conclusion was open to it on the evidence. In Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs v VWBA [2005] FCAFC 175 the Full Court by a majority held that the principles in S395/2002 v MIMA (above) were as follows: – (1) The Tribunal will err if it assesses a claim on the basis that an applicant is expected to take reasonable steps to avoid persecution if returned to his or her country of origin . despite the conduct that reduces the risk. The minority held that the majority had again fallen into the error of confusing fear of persecution with avoidance of adverse consequences. [2009] RRTA 968.org/refworld/docid/4b1cdf762. 0902782.as there was no evidence he would seek to proselytise. 071246761. available at: http://www. it does not go on to consider whether the person nevertheless has a well-founded fear of persecution because.org/refworld/docid/47f379342.if it fails to do so. there is still a real risk that the person will be persecuted.unhcr. RRT Case No. owing to the combined effect of not practising. The RRT had relied on country information which distinguished between ‘converts to Christianity who go about their devotions quietly and maintain a low profile [who] are generally not disturbed’ and persons involved in ‘aggressive outreach through proselytising by adherents of some more fundamental faiths’. having found that a person will act in a way that will reduce a risk of persecution. due to a perception that to behave more openly or aggressively would leave him at risk of persecution. not what he or she should do.unhcr. [2007] RRTA 147. and having a child born out of wedlock.html: The RRT held that a Hazara who has clearly been living in a Western country and whose behaviour and appearance are those of a person with opinions at odds with those of the Taliban faced a real risk of .

000 Muslim converts. Canada Adel Mohammed Bakr Mohamed.): The claims of a child found in an orphanage. available at: http://www. New Zealand: Refugee Status Appeals Authority: (1) while conversion from Islam to Christianity is considered apostasy under Sharia law in Iran and is punishable in principle by death. [2008] NZHC 788. work and school spheres. having a genuine and on-going commitment to the Christian faith. (3) an apostate is at remote risk of persecution either through lengthy detention or coupled with serious mistreatment. based partly on conversion to Catholicism. wishing to pray and worship in a free and unrestrained manner.gc.B. if they do so in an unobtrusive manner. all Iranian. V87-6168 (IRB). and (4) Christianity is an officially recognised religion in Iran. 2003 FC 1266. executions are not now performed in practice and have not been since the mid 1990s. Refugee Appeal No 75376 (11 September 2006). available at: http://www. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration). (2) mere apostates who do not publicly proselytise face minor intimidation and harassment such as loss of employment.fct-cf. X (Re). 28 May 2008. it had failed to deal with the sur place claim arising out of their Christian activities in Canada and the risk this might give rise to in Iran. available at: http://decisions. were genuine and well founded. being evangelical and proselytising in a manner consistent with .R. Mohajery and Ors v.unhcr. sharing their faith with others in their personal.html: Even if motives for conversion are not genuine. New Zealand Refugee Appeal No 74911 (1 September 2004). High Court. with about 15. 2007 FC 185. who are able to practice their Christianity and who. her guardian/ de facto mother and that woman’s husband and minor son. 27 June 2006: The appellants. 73945. the Federal Court held that while the Board was entitled to disbelieve the appellants’ account of conversion and persecution in Iran. (Referred to in F v. the consequential imputation of apostasy by the authorities in Iran may nonetheless be sufficient to bring an applicant within the scope of the convention definition. 2000 CanLII 21312 (I.html) Refugee Appeal No.org/refworld/docid/48abd5600.ca/en/2003/2003fc1266/2003fc1266. checking of identities at church and official summonses for questioning and reprimanding for being influenced to reconvert to Islam. 18 November 1988: The Board accepted the principle that refugee protection could appropriately be extended to persons with an apprehension of persecution due to their decision to change their religion. Refugee Appeal No 75368-71 (12 July 2005). Canada: Federal Court. while not finding such a situation in the instant case. Refugee Appeal Nos 76083-5 (27 June 2008). Ghasemian v.html: On a judicial review of refusal of an asylum claim based on conversion to Christianity in Iran. Refugee Status Appeals Authority and Minister of Immigration. suffered a real chance of persecution because their conversion had come to the attention of Iranian authorities through attending a church. NZRSAA. will avoid serious problems. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration). Iranian converts.org/refworld/docid/48ef71942.unhcr.serious physical harm as a perceived apostate by local people and that state authorities would be unable to provide effective protection. participating in bible study. 19 February 2007.

for which he faces a real risk of persecution. 29 June 2009. pastor. church leader. who would be able to practise Christianity (including attending church) without untoward risk.org/refworld/docid/42c934fb4. being unaware of the true facts. Refugee Appeal No.html: An Egyptian Coptic Christian who was forcibly converted to Islam and has since re-converted to Christianity faced a real risk of persecution on return to Egypt since a replacement ID card would disclose not just his (Christian) religion but also the fact that he formerly embraced Islam. 76219.’ Refugee Appeal No. 16 February 2009. serious physical mistreatment and long-term harassment. 76385.org/refworld/docid/4a5dd3f22. NZRSAA. as there are no churches. have inadvertently created the grounds for a refugee claim which was otherwise without foundation and fraudulent. Refugee Appeal No. proselytiser or evangelist.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2003/1562. available at: http://www.html: Great caution [was] appropriate in deciding on the genuineness of conversions from Islam to Christianity in the context of refugee claims based on apostasy. 76367. entitled him to refugee status.html: A distinction was drawn between the ordinary discreet convert to Protestant Christianity.html: A Saudi convert to Christianity would have difficulty manifesting his religion.org/refworld/docid/4afc2f602. amounting to persecution.html Shirazi v Secretary of State for the Home Department[2003] EWCA Civ 1562 (06 November 2003)(UK Court of Appeal) http://www. 17 September 2009.html: Iranian apostate convert to Christianity who sent Christian materials back to sister in Iran had well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of religion. 5 October 2009. NZRSAA.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/1999/3003. available at: http://www.unhcr.unhcr. CG [2004] UKIAT 00303.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4a76b1e52.unhcr. and one whose conversion was known to the authorities faced a real chance of serious harm in the form of arbitrary detention. exposing him to official harassment (including arbitrary detention and ill-treatment) and informal acts of violence as an apostate. Refugee Appeal No. available at: http://www. United Kingdom: Asylum and Immigration Tribunal / Immigration Appellate Authority.bailii.Christian Converts) Iran v. http://www.bailii. United Kingdom Secretary of State for the Home Department v Ahmed[1999] EWCA Civ 3003: Pakistani Ahmadi (considered apostate by authorities and by mainstream Muslims) who intended to propagate his beliefs faced a real risk of religious persecution. 76204. who would be at real risk. ‘It is ironic that the appellant’s supporters. 17 November 2004.their respective personalities.html: Iranian’s claimed conversion to Christianity was not genuine but the publicity given to his case in New Zealand and overseas by his supporters has identified him as an apostate. attending an evangelical church similar to the one they presently attend. available at: http://www. and the more active convert.unhcr. available at: http://www.org/refworld/docid/4ad4ad242. . FS and Others (Iran . NZRSAA. NZRSAA. Secretary of State for the Home Department. and not being capable or willing to confine the practice of their religion in attending a place of worship to the private realm.

Kagan reveals that over three-quarters of UNHCR's refusals of religion-based refugee claims are based on negative credibility assessment. Using a sample of transcripts of refugee status determination (RSD) interviews by UNHCR in Cairo. NM (Christian Converts) Afghanistan CG [2009] UKAIT 00045: An Afghan claimant who can demonstrate that he has genuinely converted to Christianity from Islam is likely to be able to show that he is at real risk of serious ill-treatment amounting to persecution or a breach of his Article 3 ECHR rights on return to Afghanistan. Held: JM qualified for refugee status. of any meaningful contact with his church. He offers as a better approach the 'eyes of the persecutor' perspective. CMRS Working Paper No. Bastanipour v INS 980 F. To deprive him. Conditions for Christians in Iran have not deteriorated sufficiently to necessitate a change in the guidance in FS and others (Iran Christian Converts)(above). is to require him to live a life that he could not reasonably be expected to tolerate. 12 November 2008. analysing some of the assumptions behind such questioning (such as the assumption that a genuine believer is likely to be more knowledgeable about matters of religious doctrine than a religious imposter). It would partially suppress his religious identity. CG[2008] UKAIT 00082. But the appellant JM. The American University in Cairo. Kagan shows some of the pitfalls of attempting to test religious belief through testing religious knowledge. and generally the situation of ordinary converts to Christianity did not amount to persecution.unhcr. The amendments to the code are part of a wholesale change in the criminal law and not solely aimed at converts. Resources Michael Kagan.An important and useful paper on the problems of assessing the credibility of claims to be members of persecuted religious minorities. combined with his drugs conviction in the US and his brother’s oppositional activities. UK AIT/IAA.2d 784 (9th circuit. would not be able to practise his religion in Iran on return. It remains to be seen whether the proposed inclusion of apostasy in the amended criminal code will make a material difference.org/refworld/docid/491af9092.FS Confirmed) Iran v. and there was a tradition of tolerance for religious minorities and for religious conversion there. The proposals are still before Parliament. as a convert to Roman Catholicism. 'Proselytising' and 'evangelising' are not terms of art and distinctions should not be drawn between them. 1990): An Egyptian Claimant lost his claim based on conversion to Christianity on the basis that there was nothing in Egyptian law or policy mandating any penalty for conversion. December 2009 . available at: http://www. which leads interviewers to focus more on objectively observable signs of religious faith such as church attendance.html: The distinction drawn in FS and others (above) still held good. United States Elnager v INS 930 F. 1992): The Iranian Claimant’s apostasy.SZ and JM (Christians . Secretary of State for the Home Department. and any of the accepted essential elements of that sacramental religion. 9. . as an actively practising Roman Catholic. Refugee credibility assessment and the “religious imposter” problem: A case study of Eritrean Pentecostal claims in Egypt. combined to give rise to a well-founded fear of persecution in Iran.2d 1129 (7th circuit.

Oxford University Press). which details the growing effects of blasphemy and apostasy laws and accusations. Prohibited Identities: State Interference with Religious Freedom. Washington DC Tel: 20 22 56 38 90 Email: pmarshall@hudson.cgi?c=1489 PO Box 2 Loughborough LE11 3BG. Religious Freedom in the World: A Global Survey (2008) and Silenced: How Blasphemy and Apostasy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide (2011. Hudson Institute. Paul Marshall is the author and editor of over twenty books.com/cgi-bin/giga. Center for Religious Freedom. apostasy and insulting religion accusations in the Muslim majority world.Human Rights Watch / Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. and is an expert on the effects of blasphemy.givengain. Leicestershire. Paul Marshall Senior Fellow. Translate this On this page • Introduction • International Human Rights Law: Freedom of Religion o Human Rights Instruments and Religious Freedom o Regional Instruments o UN Resolutions o UNHCR Guidance on Religion-Based Claims • Case Law: Refugee Claims Involving Apostasy • Resources o Organizations o Paul Marshall Share . It is an Association of established Christian agencies and individuals advocating the human rights of the Christian communities in the Middle East and North Africa.A report which highlights administrative discrimination on religious grounds in Egypt. Organizations Middle East Concern http://www.org Dr. the general editor of Religious Freedom in the World. within the general human rights context in the region. United Kingdom Tel: +44 15 09 23 94 00 Fax: +44 87 01 34 83 12 Email through their website Middle East Concern (MEC) is based in the Middle East. 2007 . Amongst his books that deal with this issue in the are Radical Islam’s Rules (2005).

dpuf .Contact | What's new | Get Involved | Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | List-serv The Fahamu Refugee Programme is a registered PLC in England and Wales.refugeelegalaidinformation.dpuf .refugeelegalaidinformation.L6xMKRne. Company No. Oxford. 8232075 298 Banbury Rd Flat 2.See more at: http://www. United Kingdom restrictions .See more at: http://www.org/apostasy-orconversion#sthash.L6xMKRne.org/apostasy-orconversion#sthash. OX2 7ED.

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