UK Border Agency case owners must consider the applicant’s account of persecution and any supporting evidence they offer in order to decide whether it meets the criteria for granting asylum. For example, under the 1951 Geneva Convention, it is necessary to show that
In addition to the evidence submitted by the asylum applicant, case owners take into account other information such as sources of information on the political and human rights situation in the person’s country of origin, and previous legal decisions about asylum that have been made in UK courts (case law).
Decisions often depend on whether the case owner finds the person’s account to be believable. There are a number of ways that an applicant’s credibility may be damaged, for example, if they have given inaccurate or inconsistent information. Case owners must also take the applicant’s behaviour into account.
For example, their claim may be harmed if they delayed claiming asylum without good reason, or if they have been convicted of a criminal offence such as using false travel documentation, or if they did not claim asylum in the first safe country they reached after leaving their own country (known as a ‘safe third country’).
Decisions taken by case owners must be compatible with the guidance in the Home Office’s published Asylum Policy Instructions, which are available from the UK Border Agency’s website. The API on gender issues in the asylum claim states that the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees has historically been interpreted through a framework of male experiences. It gives guidance on both evidential and procedural issues to which decision-makers should be sensitive when they are assessing women’s asylum claims. Asylum Aid has produced useful resources about the Home Office gender guidance.