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TRIBUNAL: Member M Foster

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) affirmed, without a hearing, a decision to refuse a protection visa as they found the applicant was not a person in respect of whom Australia has protection obligations.

In 2015, the applicant, who claimed to be a citizen of India, applied for, and was denied a protection visa by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department). She had asserted that she was in fear of returning to India because her parents and village community members would kill her for marrying an Australian citizen against her parents’ wishes.

The AAT made several attempts to hear the application for review in 2019 but the applicant was unable to attend due to illness and pregnancy. The Tribunal then invited her to a hearing early in 2021 but the applicant informed that she did not wish to give oral evidence at the hearing and consented to the Tribunal proceeding to make a decision on the review.

The Member considered all the material relating to the review application provided by the Department. This included a written statement by the applicant when initially applying for the visa, notes from the ‘Delegates interview’, home-visit notes and money-transfer records. The AAT also considered notes from telephone conversations the applicant had with an officer of the Tribunal where she confirmed that she is now divorced from the person she had referred to in the original claim.

The AAT also considered country information assessments prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade expressly for protection status determination purposes which had regard to information about women being subjected to violence for falling in love against their family’s wishes as well as inter-faith and inter-caste marriages.

After considering the evidence, the AAT was not satisfied that the applicant had demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Neither was the Tribunal satisfied that there were any substantial grounds for believing that there was a real risk that the applicant will suffer significant harm if returned to India.

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