Skip to content

Tribunal: Member P Hunter

The AAT affirmed a decision of a delegate of the Minister for Immigration who refused to grant the applicant a protection visa. The Tribunal was not satisfied he was as involved with the Catholic Church in China as he claimed, or that his country was as intolerant of the religion as suggested. The Tribunal was also concerned the applicant had been planning to travel to Australia months before the occurrence of the events he said had forced him to leave.

Australia is obliged to protect people who satisfy one of two criteria. The first is called the ‘refugee criterion’ and broadly requires the applicant to have a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’.[1] The second is called ‘complementary protection’ grounds and broadly requires that there is ‘a real risk of significant harm’ to the applicant. [2]

The applicant claimed to have converted to Catholicism after his girlfriend introduced him to an unregistered, underground church. He was baptised, became an assistant leader in a youth training group and claimed to have been blacklisted by the Chinese Public Security Bureau for active involvement in the church. He also claimed to have escaped a subsequent raid on the location of the youth training group by fleeing to an island for a month and then to Australia with the help of an underworld figure.

The AAT was not satisfied he had a well-founded fear of persecution because of his religion or that he would be persecuted if he returned to China. His evidence about events contained several inconsistencies, including the story of his religious awakening, which was vague and unconvincing. The AAT accepted he may have attended a Catholic church in China, but his knowledge of the religion did not reflect an active or prolonged affiliation. His claim he would be executed if he returned to China conflicted with his own evidence that associates had been imprisoned and let go without ongoing repercussions. There was no evidence that his legal departure from China attracted any government or political interest.

Further, country information from the Department of Foreign Affairs showed Catholic worshippers are generally able to practice their religion in state-sanctioned churches, with leaders of underground churches and people who were politically active more likely targets.

Read the full decision



[1] Migration Act 1958 (Cth), s 36(2)(a) and 5H.

[2] Migration Act, s 36(2)(aa) and 36(2A).