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Tribunal: Senior Member S Roushan

The AAT remitted a decision of a delegate of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) for reconsideration, after finding the applicant was a refugee.

The applicant sought protection for several reasons, including his former occupation, his imputed political opinion as a supporter of the Iraqi government, his adoption of Western cultural attitudes and his poor mental health.

The Tribunal accepted the applicant had longstanding psychological illnesses and that he was suffering from anxiety, depression and an unnamed psychiatric condition, redacted to protect his identity.

Information on Iraq from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was that psychological disabilities are highly stigmatised and sufferers are subject to social discrimination. While discrimination – without more – does not necessarily give rise to persecution, the Tribunal assessed the seriousness of the harm it could cause the applicant by looking at the cumulative effect of discrimination over time, together with his personal attributes and vulnerabilities.

In the ten years the applicant had been in Australia most of his familial ties had been broken and his long-time home, where he had lived with his maternal grandfather, had been sold. In the context of Iraq where an entrenched patronage network meant family relationships play a core role in society, this placed the applicant in an exceptionally vulnerable social group. The applicant’s psychological condition, together with his lack of access to family and social support, was found to put him at risk of persecution.

The Tribunal rejected the applicant’s other claims for protection, finding a criminal group who had targeted him in Iraq was not politically motivated or connected to Islamic fundamentalist groups. It also found that his Western appearance would not cause him serious or significant harm because standards of dress and conduct had relaxed since the retreat of Islamic State and drinking alcohol was now tolerated.

Read the full decision