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TRIBUNAL: Member L Hardy

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) remitted a matter for reconsideration to the Department of Immigration (the Department) with the direction that the applicant satisfies relevant sections of the Migration Act 1958 (the Act).

The applicant is a Chaldean Christian citizen of Iraq, and was residing in Lebanon, when he was originally sponsored for a prospective spouse visa. His sponsor later withdrew sponsorship. The applicant subsequently applied for a protection visa, which was refused by the Department.

At his AAT hearing, the applicant claimed that there is ongoing discrimination, harassment by militia members, kidnappings, and attacks on Chaldean Christians in Iraq. He asserted that he cannot avail himself of protection there due to pervasive discrimination against Christians in the country, and the continuing presence of ISIS and Al Qaeda who are not yet eradicated by state and allied forces.

The Tribunal considered independent country information and various media reports that confirmed that the discrimination is written directly into the constitution in Iraq and that ISIS’s campaign of destruction of minority cultural and religious heritage also affected Chaldean people, sites and properties. A recent state visit to Iraq by Catholic Pope Francis was discussed which the applicant described as more of an act of hope against a grim reality than of any recognition of improvement in the lives of Iraq’s Christians.

The AAT found that the applicant’s testimony is generally supported by independent media and human rights observers and agreed that the applicant faces a real chance of being persecuted in Iraq for reasons of religion. The Tribunal was satisfied that the applicant is a person in respect of whom Australia has protection obligations.

Read the full decision