Our client, a national of the Russian Federation, is a practising Jehovah’s Witness and active member of the Church.
In August 2017, the Vyborg City Court in the Russian Federation ruled that a Jehovah’s Witness publication, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, a translation of the Bible, and three Jehovah’s Witness brochures were extremist. The result of this was that Jehovah’s Witnesses became a banned religion in the Russian Federation on the grounds that they are an extremist organisation.
As reported by Amnesty International: those who continue to manifest their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses including participating in worship, leading religious activities, recruiting others or fundraising despite the ban will be liable to criminal prosecution and can face imprisonment for up to 12 years.
Therefore, fearing persecution if he were to return to the Russian Federation on the basis of his religious beliefs, our client claimed asylum in the UK. The grounds on which a person can claim asylum are set out in Article 1 (A) (2) of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which reads as follows:
As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it
Based on the strength of the submissions and supporting documents provided to the Home Office by Oksana Demyanchuk, our client’s asylum claim was approved by the Home Office at the initial decision stage. In 2018, 67% of asylum claims in the UK were refused by the Home Office at initial decision, whereas over 50% of appeals before the Frist-tier Tribunal. Therefore, we would recommend that asylum seekers in the UK always seek professional legal advice.
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