Clause 29 - Article 1(A)(2):well-founded fear

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:13 pm ar 26 Hydref 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:13, 26 Hydref 2021

The clause makes fundamental changes to important aspects of what it means to be a refugee under the convention. It seeks to require that important elements of the claim are to be established on the balance of probabilities before the decision maker goes on to make an overall assessment of real risk. Previously an overall assessment of the reasonable degree of likelihood of persecution was applied.

We regard this as a hugely dangerous and possibly very confusing clause. It fails to take into account the challenge of evidence and facts that arise many thousands of miles away, or facts to which only the claimant’s testimony can speak to. If, for example, a claim is made on the grounds that a person is LGBT, it can be hugely challenging to prove that to the standard of the balance of probabilities. As the UNHCR has explained:

“Some claimants, because of the shame they feel over what has happened to them, or due to trauma, may be reluctant to identify the true extent of the persecution suffered or feared.”

Similar issues will arise with many other groups that we have already spoken about this morning.

What is proposed is really dangerous. If a decision maker is certain, for example, that LGBT people in general are at risk of persecution on return to a particular country, and even if that decision maker thinks that there is a reasonable likelihood that this particular applicant is LGBT, that would no longer be enough to justify an award of refugee status.