Australia Refuses Asylum for Ukrainian Jehovah’s Witness

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court on Wednesday rejected an asylum bid by a Ukrainian couple who said they faced persecution because the husband was a Jehovah’s Witness.

The High Court was told the couple, who cannot be identified, arrived in Australia in 1998 and sought refugee status on the grounds that the Ukrainian government encouraged persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that police condoned such violence.

Their applications were initially rejected by the Immigration Department but they eventually won an appeal before three Federal Court judges.

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On Wednesday, the High Court ruled in favor of the government and quashed that appeal.

The court heard how the husband, but not his wife, became involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Ukraine in May 1998 and started distributing the religious sect’s publications.

He told the court he’d encountered hostility and was beaten twice, had his front door set alight, and was fired from his job. The court didn’t identify the couple’s hometown in the Ukraine.

The High Court ruled that the Refugee Review Tribunal had made the correct decision by rejecting the couple’s initial appeal.

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Apr. 21, 2004
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