Information about conversion to Christianity reaching the home country does not automatically constitute grounds for international protection
The situation of every asylum seeker is assessed individually
In February 2019, the Supreme Administrative Court issued a decision that transferred the processing of a case of an asylum seeker, who has converted to Christianity, back to the Finnish Immigration Service based on grounds such as the fact that information about the applicant’s conversion has reached the applicant’s native country Afghanistan. The media reported that the decision would have far-reaching effects that might change asylum decision-making. However, the decision in question will not result in significant change in the asylum decision-making process.
Even before the Supreme Administrative Court issued its decision, the Finnish Immigration Service’s policy was to investigate whether information about the asylum seeker’s conversion to Christianity had reached Afghanistan and whether it might cause danger to the asylum seeker. In Afghanistan, relinquishing Islam and converting to Christianity may result in a need for international protection.
However, each asylum decision is always based on an individual assessment of whether the person is under risk of persecution or serious harm if they return to their home country. It is also assessed whether the asylum seeker can settle elsewhere in the home country if they are under risk of persecution or serious harm in their own territory.
The overall consideration in the decision issued by the Supreme Administrative Court was also affected by various other factors, in addition to information about conversion to Christianity reaching the home country. Some information was not revealed until the appeal stage, which means that the Finnish Immigration Service was not aware of it when making the original asylum decision.