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Iranians at risk if deported

12 June 2008

by Bill Bowder

THE GOVERNMENT has admitted that Iranian converts to Christianity are at risk if they are deported from the UK.

Lord West, the Home Office Parliamentary Under-secretary of State, was asked about the deportation of failed Iranian asylum-seekers in the House of Lords on Monday. In an exchange with the Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, and other peers, Lord West said that the Government was waiting for the results of last month’s review about Christian converts.

He told the Bishop, who had asked in what circumstances Iranian Christians were deported, that the Government recognised that Christians from Iran “may demonstrate a need for international protection”.

Those who had a well-founded fear of persecution would not be returned. The issue had been “closely considered” as a result of a hearing in May. “We will alter our guidance if necessary, based on the awaited determination of that study and review.”

Responding to a question from Lord Anderson, Lord West said that immigration caseworkers were given guidance on how to look at the issue of conversion, worked out in consultation with the Evangelical Alliance. “He is absolutely right that those who have converted are possibly more at risk.”

There was no evidence “at the moment” of executions in Iran on the basis of conversion to Christianity.

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