In most cases we process, Iranians tell us they have been politically active for Kurdish parties or that they have converted to Christianity.
Many cases are rejected due to credibility, meaning we do not believe the applicant's explanation of what they have experienced in Iran. In other cases, we believe it is safe for the applicant to return to Iran.
What do we consider?
Many of those who apply for protection in Norway have been politically active in Iran. Most of them are Kurds. The majority have engaged in activiteis for Kurdish parties in Iran, such as distibuting leaflets, participating in demonstrations or running a blog. Others have engaged in political or military activities for Iranian Kurdish parties in Iraq. Some also explain that they have fled due to familiy member's political activities. In most cases, the level of political activity is so little that the Iranian authorities have little interest in the person.
Another large group of asylum applicants state that they have converted to Christianity. Some say that they converted in Iran, while others convert after arriving in Norway. Some of those who have converted in Iran have been members of a home church. We call it a home church when a private individual or pastor invites people to their home to participate in Christian activities. Home churches are not approved by the Iranian authorities. Leaders and members of home churches can be at particular risk of sanctions. Most people who are arrested face short-term detentions, but that is not sufficient to be granted protection in Norway. Very few are granted protection because they have taken part in Christian activities that the Iranian authorities might harshly suppress.
In Norway, many become active in Christian congregations. Some also engage in missionary work. Most of them have such a low level of activity and visibility that they will not risk sanctions from the Iranian authorities when they return to Iran.
Some Iranians engage in political activities in Norway, often referred to as sur place activities. This involves demonstrations and online activities. Many become more active after coming to Norway.
Some women explain that they are fleeing forced marriages or that they have married against their family's wishes. This is most common among Kurds and in rural areas. Some women state that they do not wish to adhere to the hijab mandate upon return to Iran. Both women and men explain that they have made themselves known in Norway through demonstrations and other protest activities related to the "Women, Life, and Freedom" movement. There are also several Iranians who seek protection because they are homosexual
We usually agree with the UDI's decision. Since 2017, we have reversed the UDI's decision in about 17% of the cases. We rarely grant protection in cases where the UDI has refused an application. When we do grant protection, the grounds for doing so are normally related to political or religious activity in Norway. Some are granted permits on humanitarian grounds, usually due to the children’s connection to Norway.
In addition to the applicants’ statements, we always consider whether the area they come from is so dangerous that they need protection. We call this an assessment of the security situation. Both international case law and decisions made by several of UNE’s Grand Boards show that there is a high threshold for granting a permit on the basis of the security situation in a country.
In order to grant a permit on this basis, the general level of violence must be so high that any person will face a real danger simply by being in the area. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has stated several times that this is only relevant in extremely violent and turbulent situations.
Iran, from autumn 2022 into 2023, has been marked by widespread demonstrations. The protests began after the 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini was arrested in September because the Morality Police deemed her hijab was worn incorrectly. She was allegedly beaten in the head by the morality police and died in their custody. The ensuing demonstrations focused on the hijab mandate and the general oppression of women, but eventually grew into broader demands for regime change in Iran. Several individuals have been sentenced in connection with the demonstrations. The situation in the country remains tense. We are closely monitoring it and have been in close contact with the Norwegian embassy in Tehran since the protests began in 2022.The Norwegian Country of Origin Information Centre (Landinfo) is also following the situation in Iran and has been continuously updating UNE about it. We are also closely following reports from various human rights organizations and media outlets.
UNE believes that the general security situation does not preclude returns to Iran. We make concrete and individual assessments of each person's need for protection.
Everyone who applies for asylum in Norway is obliged to assist in clarifying their identity. Applicants who have a passport must hand this in. Other documents may also be accepted as proof of identity. Applicants who do not have ID documents are obliged to do their best to obtain such documents.
We conclude that an applicant's identity is either substantiated or not substantiated:
Substantiated identity: We believe that it is probable that the applicant is who he says he is. Documents and the applicant's statement can help to substantiate their identity. As a rule, the identity of the applicant must be substantiated before a residence permit can be granted.
Not substantiated: We believe that it is not probable that the applicant is who he says he is. This is the case when the applicant has not helped to establish who he is and where he comes from, by, for example, providing incorrect information. The reason we believe the identity has not been substantiated must always be included in the decision.
In cases where we maintain the UDI's decision, it is usually not concluded whether the applicant's identity is substantiated or not.
Identity documents from Iran are normally reliable, since Iran has a functioning population register. Documents that are submitted can substantiate a person’s identity.
All Iranians in Iran have ID documents. They have birth certificates (shenasnameh) and national ID cards (kart-e melli). Iranians born and raised outside of Iran may not have Iranian ID documents, but we believe that in most cases they can obtain such documents from the authorities.
Very few Iranians present passports. We believe that they can obtain passports from the Iranian authorities if they can document that they are Iranian.
Cases from Iran are usually very complex, and many applicants explain that they have multiple reasons for seeking protection. Many of those who reciev a final rejection of their applications do not return to Iran. They often request a re-evaluation of their case. Some marry and have children, some develop health problems, while others engage in political or religious activities that they want us to consider.
We use many different sources. Much of the information we use has been collected by Landinfo, a unit that prepares reports on topics that are important for the UDI and UNE. Recommendations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, external link) are also important. We also read reports and news from organisations such as Amnesty International, the UN special rapporteur for Iran (external link), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (external link) and the UK Home Office (external link). We also keep track of what the media and other organisations reports.