Article Eighteen | March 18, 2020
The UK’s new guidelines for asylum cases involving Iranian Christian converts acknowledge there is a “real risk” of persecution for “ordinary” Christians in Iran, and not just leaders or those with a “particularly evangelical zeal”.
The guidelines have been updated to reflect the findings of a November court hearing for an Iranian referred to as “PS”, whose claim was ultimately rejected but whose case is likely to prove extremely significant for many future claims.
“PS Iran” is now the reference case for claims involving Iranian Christian converts, replacing the case of “SZ and JM” back in 2008, when the risk to “ordinary” Christians was found to be “insufficient” for refugee protection.
Since then, the situation for Christian converts in Iran was acknowledged to have “markedly deteriorated”.
The closure of almost all Persian-speaking churches was cited as the “most marked change”, alongside the finding that “simply being a Christian [convert] is enough to get you arrested”, and not necessarily being involved in leadership or evangelism.
The judges said it was never in question that there was a “causal nexus between the religious belief of Christians in Iran and the harms that they there suffer”; only the “extent” of those harms.
The ruling only considered the situation of converts to Christianity, and not Iran’s recognised Christian minority of ethnic Assyrian and Armenian descent, who they said were “tolerated” and “do not in general terms face a real risk of serious harm”.