Pakistani Christians seeking asylum in UK eyeing for better asylum policy

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Pakistani Christians in UK

A country guidance case regarding persecution of Christians in Pakistan, heard on Thursday, November 19. This case would serve as a point of reference for the Pakistani Christians seeking asylum in the UK.

In this respect, the legal teams for AK and SK represented by Wimbledon Solicitors and Shivani Jegarajah of Mansfield Chambers and Sarah Pinder of Goldsmith Chambers urged all Christians across UK to pray for the success. Moreover, the supporters of persecuted Pakistani Christians were asked to attend the hearing.

In this regard the teams of AK and SK issued a press release:

“The country guidance case in respect of Pakistani Christians and risk is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal on Thursday 19th November on an application for permission. The Upper Tribunal published its determination almost a year ago in December 2014 – AK and SK (Christians: risk) Pakistan CG v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] UKUT 00569 (IAC) – dismissing the appeals of AK and SK. Permission to appeal was refused by the Upper Tribunal and following the application being made directly to the Court of Appeal, this was listed by the Court for an oral permission hearing on notice to the SSHD.

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As part of its country guidance, the Upper Tribunal formed the view that despite Christians in Pakistan suffering discrimination, this was not sufficient to form a real of persecution and that unlike the position of Ahmadis, Christians are in general permitted to practice their faith, by attending church, participating in religious activities and having their own schools and hospitals.

On the specific facts of AK and SK, evangelism was also focused upon and the Upper Tribunal concluded that someone who seeks to broadcast their faith to strangers so as to encourage them to convert, may find themselves facing a charge of blasphemy and in that way, evangelical Christians face a greater risk than those Christians who are not publicly active.

Specifically with regards to women, the Upper Tribunal found that like other women in Pakistan, Christian women in general face discrimination and may be at a heightened risk but again, in the Tribunal’s view, this was not at a sufficient level to amount to persecution and a fact-sensitive approach was crucial to individual case assessments.

AK and SK are challenging the Upper Tribunal’s findings as they have been applied to them and in particular, are arguing that the Tribunal has looked at their cases confining their risk assessment to formal activities, which may or may not have been undertaken rather than an assessment of their “self-definition” and “personal transformation” as Evangelical Christians, which is what was required. An analogy might be made with that of a person’s sexuality and the Tribunal has avoided making a finding as to the centrality of AK’s and SK’ belief system to their identity.

Separately, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief very recently called for submissions and held a formal hearing in the Houses of Parliament on 10-11 November 2015 – ‘The Plight of Minority Religious or Belief Groups in Pakistan and as Refugees: Addressing Current UK & UNHCR Policy’.”