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26 August 2021

Fear arising outside of country of origin

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In refugee law, it is important to think about a case broadly and consider the wider circumstances.

To be considered a refugee under the Refugee Convention, a person must have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their home country.

This fear is frequently of a particular person, group, or organisation. It can also be a fear of society as a whole. In the majority of cases, the person or group who causes the fear is located in the applicant’s country of origin at the time the applicant files a claim for refugee or protection  status.  

However, that is not always the case. In one of our recent cases, we successfully argued that our client’s fear of returning to Sri Lanka arose due to a fear of her ex-partner. Our client met her ex-partner while in New Zealand. He became abusive, and our client reported his actions to the police.  

We argued that our client’s former partner is likely to be deported under s 157 of the Immigration Act. He is a temporary visa holder and is being charged with serious violent crimes (strangulation, threatening to kill). He had also expressed an intention to harm our client. He knew her Sri Lankan address, and country information showed that it would be difficult for our client to access state protection.

In granting the appeal, the Tribunal found that our client’s fear of her abusive ex-partner was well founded on the basis that he was likely to be deported to Sri Lanka.  The Tribunal held:

…The risk that the ex-partner will be motivated to seek retribution against the appellant following his eventual return to Sri Lanka is more than remote or purely speculative. Even if his return is some time away because he is required to first serve a sentence of imprisonment here in New Zealand, the motivation to harm the appellant is likely to remain unchanged…

This case shows why it is important to explore every angle when making arguments before the Tribunal. A potential threat could arise due to something that happens while you are outside of your home country.  

If you have concerns about returning to your home country, we recommend you contact one of our immigration lawyers to discuss your circumstances.


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