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Asylum Claimants Should Not Have to Lie to Avoid Persecution

RT (Zimbabwe) and others (respondents) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] UKSC 38; KM (Zimbabwe) (FC)(Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] UKSC 38
 
The Supreme Court has confirmed that “nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which she or he does not believe” simply to avoid persecution in their country of nationality.
 
The appeals concerned asylum seekers from Zimbabwe who had their applications for asylum refused because they had no political leanings and were not politically active in Zimbabwe. It is relevant that, in Zimbabwe, people can be persecuted if they are unable to demonstrate positive support for the regime.

In a previous case, HJ (Iran) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] AC 596, it was decided that a gay man should not have to lie about his sexuality in order to avoid persecution, and that he was therefore protected by the Refugee Convention. The question facing the Supreme Court in this case was whether the HJ (Iran) principle extends to people who have no firm political beliefs and who may be obliged to feign certain beliefs to avoid persecution. The court decided that the HJ (Iran) principle does apply to applicants who claim asylum on the grounds of fear of persecution for lack of political belief. The court found that the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the European Convention of Human Rights protect the right not to hold political beliefs just as much they protect the right to hold and express them.

Tags
Immigration & Asylum