The All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion and Belief launched its latest report in Parliament on 7 June 2016 which I was pleased to attend. "Fleeing Persecution: Asylum Claims in the UK on Religious Freedom grounds" was jointly produced with the Asylum Advocacy Group.
I was impressed by the positive approach and realism underpinning the report and the work of the APPG and the Asylum Advocacy Group. It is recognised that some applications are not credible, which need to be identified as well as genuine claims that are not being accepted and that Home Office staff have to make incredibly nuanced and difficult decisions.There is a clear desire to work closely with the Home Office to improve the support and training of their staff to improve the quality of decison-making. Bishop Angaelos, who also spoke at the CCJ event I attended on 27 May, was, as usual, forthright and well informed.
Prof Geoff Gilbert of the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex pointed out that persecution on religious grounds was often seen as an identifier for other characteristics and was easy to be over-looked. He reaffirmed the significance of the 1951 Convention on Refugees but that as there was no international refugee Court decisions were made on a country by country basis although jurisdictions did influence each other. He saw the development of the concept of "cumulative discrimination" over the next few years.
The parallels drawn with the experiences of LGBT asylum seekers was interesting and merits further exploration. The same issues with credibility seems to recur.
The report can be found at Freedom Declared website of the Group