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Tribunal: Senior Member Shahyar Roushan

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection refused to grant the applicant’s Protection visa on 8 January 2016. The applicant applied to the AAT for a review of the Department’s decision.

The applicant was a national of Lebanon who worked for the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and identified as a Christian Maronite. Part of the ISF’s role was to protect the safety of the Lebanese population. The applicant claimed that once the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) came to power they were the primary group the ISF fought. He claimed they planted bombs and beheaded ISF officers. He claimed to fear conflict with the ISIS, particularly because he was Christian, and so he fled to Australia.

At an AAT hearing, the applicant claimed that because he fled his employment with the ISF, he was now a fugitive and would be imprisoned if he went back to Lebanon. The applicant provided the AAT with two documents as evidence of this. He claimed one was issued by the ISF to his family in Lebanon stating he was a fugitive and would be imprisoned if he returned. The other was a conviction issued by the Military Court indicating he had been sentenced to one month imprisonment. The applicant claimed that if he was imprisoned in Lebanon he would be harmed by extremist inmates because he was a Christian and a former ISF employee. He claimed that he also continued to fear violence from ISIS and other terrorist groups in Lebanon generally.

A Protection visa may be granted if the applicant can satisfy one of two criteria.[1] The first is called the ‘refugee criterion’ and broadly requires a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’.[2] The second is called ‘complementary protection’ grounds and broadly requires ‘a real risk of significant harm’.[3]

The AAT accepted that the applicant faced imprisonment upon return to Lebanon after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) authenticated the applicant’s evidence. The AAT noted that the applicant’s conviction and likely imprisonment arose from laws of general application that were not discriminatory against a particular group. The AAT observed that generally applicable law is not ordinarily considered persecution[4]. The AAT therefore did not accept that there was a real chance that the applicant would face serious harm amounting to persecution, which is required under the ‘refugee criterion’.

The applicant claimed that what he feared was not imprisonment, but coming face to face with Muslim extremists while in prison. DFAT advised the AAT that ‘military and security personnel, including ISF are imprisoned at a Military Tribunal’s detention centre’, which do not contain members of ISIS or other Muslim extremist groups. There was no persuasive evidence to suggest that the applicant would be imprisoned in a non-military prison. The AAT did not accept that the applicant would come face to face with members of ISIS or any other extremist group in a military detention centre. The AAT was not satisfied that there were substantial grounds for believing that there was a real risk that the applicant would suffer significant harm during the period he may spend in prison.

The applicant also claimed to fear harm as a Christian and had concerns about the general violence, political conflict and tension in Lebanon. Based on the country information before it, the AAT was not satisfied that the applicant would face a real chance or real risk of serious or significant harm in Lebanon because of his religion. The AAT was also not satisfied that the general security situation in Lebanon would expose the applicant to a real chance of persecution because there was no persuasive evidence to suggest that the applicant faced these concerns personally.[5]

The AAT concluded that the applicant did not meet the criteria for a Protection visa.

The AAT affirmed the decision not to grant the applicant a Protection visa.

Read the full written decision on AustLII.



[1] Section 36(2) of the Migration Act 1958

[2] Section 36(2)(a) of the Migration Act 1958. Refugee is defined in Article 1 of The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

[3] Section 36(2)(aa) and section 36(2A) for the meaning of significant harm under the Migration Act 1958

[4] See paragraph 36 and 37 of the full decision

[5] See paragraphs 50 – 52 of the full decision