Bulgaria Court Overturns Denial of Asylum to Iranian Woman

Society | March 19, 2016, Saturday // 11:24|  views

The State Agency for Refugees of Bulgaria had described Zakhra Shakhsvani's fear of persecution in Iran as ungrounded. File photo, BGNES

A court in the Black Sea city of Burgas has ruled an Iranian woman living in Bulgaria should be granted asylum.

The decision comes after the State Agency for Refugees (DAB) of the country had rejected the woman's asylum request.

Zahra Shakhsvani, 22, has so far submitted an application twice, the second time being in November of last year when she was refused humanitarian status.  

The first denial was upheld by the Sofia Administrative Court where the applicant had lodged an appeal (she lived in the Bulgarian capital at the time).

However, the Administrative court of Burgas said on its website [BG] on Friday it had revoked DAB's decision of November 27, citing "substantial violation of administrative and proceedings rules, with the relevant facts, in view of the specific refugee record of the asylum seeking person in question, being taken into consideration."

Insted, a formal judgment was made of the situation in Shakhsvani's country of origin, the court said.

Shakhsvani converted to Christianity after fleeing the Islamic Republic and settling in Turkey in 2012. She moved illegally to Bulgaria in 2013.
The court in Burgas rules that the applicant's choice to changf3e her religion has not been sufficiently considered as a factor by the refugee agency, given "the situation of religions minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran" and the possibility for her to face persecution on returning to her country of origin due to her affiliation to the respective religions group.

The court says its decision is final.

In its denial DAB had pointed to the lack of ground to fear any persecution based on "race, religion, nationality, political opinion or affiliation to a certain social group".

Shakhsvani, however, argues she left Iran after members of her family were arrested.

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Tags: Iran, Burgas, Zahra Shakhsvani, State Agency for Refugees, DAB, Administrative Court of Burgas, Sofia Administrative Court


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