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23 January 2020

Chinese Christian Recognised as Refugee on Appeal

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We recently acted for a client from China who was politically active during the Tiananmen Square protests in China in the late 1980’s.

Our client initially arrived in New Zealand in 2002.  Early on our client was introduced to Christianity and began to attend church regularly. 

The issue for the Tribunal’s assessment of our client’s appeal was whether he would be subject to discrimination (by way of government sanctions or restrictions) because of his religious belief.

Country information established that the Chinese government has placed significant restrictions on a number of religious organisations.  The state also undertakes regular surveillance, imposes strict sanctions and has detained members of religious organisations.

An expert witness indicated that the Chinese government has had a long and uncomfortable relationship with religious faiths.  The state has outlined five constitutionally named protected religions which are subject to regulations and supervision under the state administration of religious affairs.

Consequently, those state sanctioned religious organisations face few risks beyond the general supervision of the churches by the state bodies.  However, unregistered or unapproved churches falling outside of the scope of “normal religious activities” may face a range of repercussions.

In this instance, our client was identified as falling outside of the protection of the State’s recognised religious organisations.  Accordingly, he faced risks of persecution, detention, and possibly torture. 

As part of the Tribunal’s assessment it was required to determine whether our client was “at risk of being persecuted”.  The Tribunal agreed that there was a real chance that our client would face persecution if he returned to China, based on his religious beliefs. 

The Tribunal confirmed that our client is a refugee within the meaning of Article 1A(2) of the Refugee Convention and cannot be deported from New Zealand.

If you face difficulties on returning to your home country, it is important that you seek specialised legal advice. 

Our immigration lawyers specialise in refugee and immigration appeal cases.  Please contact one of our lawyers.


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