Article 3, Article 8, Asylum, ECHR, UTIAC

Upper Tribunal gives guidance on Article 3 and suicide

In AXB (Art 3 health: obligations; suicide) Jamaica [2019] UKUT 397 (IAC), the Upper Tribunal explained that the threshold for establishing Article 3 harm is the high threshold described in N v United Kingdom[2008] ECHR 453 and a Presidential Tribunal held that:

  1. In a case where an individual asserts that his removal from the Returning State would violate his Article 3 ECHR rights because of the consequences to his health, the obligation on the authorities of a Returning State dealing with a health case is primarily one of examining the fears of an applicant as to what will occur following return and assessing the evidence.  In order to fulfil its obligations, a Returning State must provide “appropriate procedures” to allow that examination and assessment to be carried out.  In the UK, that is met in the first place by an examination of the case by the Secretary of State and then by an examination on appeal by the Tribunal and an assessment of the evidence before it.
  2. There is no free-standing procedural obligation on a Returning State to make enquiries of the Receiving State concerning treatment in that State or obtain assurances in that regard.  Properly understood, what is referred to at [185] to [187] of the Grand Chamber’s judgment in Paposhvili concerns the discharge of respective burdens of proof.
  3. The burden is on the individual appellant to establish that, if he is removed, there is a real risk of a breach of Article 3 ECHR to the standard and threshold which apply.  If the appellant provides evidence which is capable of proving his case to the standard which applies, the Secretary of State will be precluded from removing the appellant unless she is able to provide evidence countering the appellant’s evidence or dispelling doubts arising from that evidence.  Depending on the particular circumstances of the case, such evidence might include general evidence, specific evidence from the Receiving State following enquiries made or assurances from the Receiving State concerning the treatment of the appellant following return. 
  4. Where an individual asserts that he would be at real risk of committing suicide, following return to the Receiving State, the threshold for establishing Article 3 harm is the high threshold described in N v United Kingdom [2008] ECHR 453, unless the risk involves hostile actions of the Receiving State towards the individual: RA (Sri Lanka) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] EWCA Civ 1210; Y and Z v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWCA Civ 362.
Asylum, Sudan

The Future is Unpredictable in Sudan

In AAR & AA (Non-Arab Darfuris – return) Sudan [2019] UKUT 282 (IAC) (7 August 2019), the Upper tribunal held that:

The situation in Sudan remains volatile after civil protests started in late 2018 and the future is unpredictable. There is insufficient evidence currently available to show that the guidance given in AA (non-Arab Darfuris –  relocation) Sudan CG [2009] UKAIT 00056 and MM (Darfuris) Sudan CG [2015] UKUT 10 (IAC) requires revision. Those cases should still be followed.

Asylum, ECHR, Iran, Kurds

New Country Guidance on Iranian Kurds: Failed Asylum Seekers, Illegal Exit and Removal Policy

In HB (Kurds) Iran (illegal exit: failed asylum seeker) CG [2018] UKUT 430 (IAC) (removal window policy) [2018] UKUT 430 (IAC) (12 December 2018), the UTIAC held that:

(1)    SSH and HR (illegal exit: failed asylum seeker) Iran CG [2016] UKUT 308 (IAC) remains valid country guidance in terms of the country guidance offered in the headnote. For the avoidance of doubt, that decision is not authority for any proposition in relation to the risk on return for refused Kurdish asylum-seekers on account of their Kurdish ethnicity alone. 

(2)  Kurds in Iran face discrimination. However, the evidence does not support a contention that such discrimination is, in general, at such a level as to amount to persecution or Article 3 ill-treatment.

(3)   Since 2016 the Iranian authorities have become increasingly suspicious of, and sensitive to, Kurdish political activity. Those of Kurdish ethnicity are thus regarded with even greater suspicion than hitherto and are reasonably likely to be subjected to heightened scrutiny on return to Iran.

(4)   However, the mere fact of being a returnee of Kurdish ethnicity with or without a valid passport, and even if combined with illegal exit, does not create a risk of persecution or Article 3 ill-treatment.

(5)   Kurdish ethnicity is nevertheless a risk factor which, when combined with other factors, may create a real risk of persecution or Article 3 ill-treatment. Being a risk factor it means that Kurdish ethnicity is a factor of particular significance when assessing risk. Those “other factors” will include the matters identified in paragraphs (6)-(9) below.

(6)   A period of residence in the KRI by a Kurdish returnee is reasonably likely to result in additional questioning by the authorities on return. However, this is a factor that will be highly fact-specific and the degree of interest that such residence will excite will depend, non-exhaustively, on matters such as the length of residence in the KRI, what the person concerned was doing there and why they left.

(7)   Kurds involved in Kurdish political groups or activity are at risk of arrest, prolonged detention and physical abuse by the Iranian authorities. Even Kurds expressing peaceful dissent or who speak out about Kurdish rights also face a real risk of persecution or Article 3 ill-treatment.

(8)   Activities that can be perceived to be political by the Iranian authorities include social welfare and charitable activities on behalf of Kurds. Indeed, involvement with any organised activity on behalf of or in support of Kurds can be perceived as political and thus involve a risk of adverse attention by the Iranian authorities with the consequent risk of persecution or Article 3 ill-treatment.

(9)   Even ‘low-level’ political activity, or activity that is perceived to be political, such as, by way of example only, mere possession of leaflets espousing or supporting Kurdish rights, if discovered, involves the same risk of persecution or Article 3 ill-treatment. Each case however, depends on its own facts and an assessment will need to be made as to the nature of the material possessed and how it would be likely to be viewed by the Iranian authorities in the context of the foregoing guidance.

(10)   The Iranian authorities demonstrate what could be described as a ‘hair-trigger’ approach to those suspected of or perceived to be involved in Kurdish political activities or support for Kurdish rights. By ‘hair-trigger’ it means that the threshold for suspicion is low and the reaction of the authorities is reasonably likely to be extreme.

Asylum, EU Law, Returns Directive, UTIAC

Asylum: Dublin Regulation and Italy

In SM & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dublin Regulation – Italy) [2018] UKUT 429 (IAC) (4 December 2018), it was held that:

(1)        Subject to paragraph (2) below, on the evidence before the Upper Tribunal, no judge of the First-tier Tribunal, properly directed, could find there is a real risk of an asylum seeker or Beneficiary of International Protection (BIP) suffering Article 3 ill-treatment if returned to Italy pursuant to the Dublin Regulation, by reason only of the situation that the person concerned may be reasonably likely to experience in Italy, as a “Dublin returnee”. The evidence does not rebut the general presumption that Italy will comply with its international obligations in such cases.

(2)       However, the evidence before the Upper Tribunal is markedly different from that previously considered by the High Court in “Dublin” cases concerning Italy, such that it cannot, without more, be said a human rights claim based on Article 3 is bound to fail, if the claim is made by a ‘particularly vulnerable person’ (as described in paragraph (3) below).

(3)         The categories of “vulnerable persons” identified in the Reception Directive are a starting point for assessing whether a person has a particular vulnerability for the purposes of this paragraph. The extent of a person’s particular vulnerability must be sufficiently severe to show a potential breach of Article 3. It is difficult to specify when a particular vulnerability might require additional safeguarding to protect a person’s rights under Article 3. The assessment will depend on the facts of each case. However, a person who makes general assertions about mental health problems without independent evidence or who has been diagnosed with a mild mental health condition or has a minor disability may have sufficient resilience to cope with the procedures on return to Italy, even if it entails the possibility of facing a difficult temporary period of homelessness or basic conditions in first-line reception facilities. There will be cases where a person’s particular vulnerability is sufficiently serious that the risk of even a temporary period of homelessness or housing in the basic conditions of first-line reception might cross the relevant threshold. Such cases are likely to include those with significant mental or physical health problems or disabilities. Other people may have inherent characteristics that render them particularly vulnerable e.g. unaccompanied children or the elderly.

(4)        In the case of a ‘particularly vulnerable person’, the following considerations apply:

(i)                  A failure by the respondent to consider whether to exercise discretion under article 17(2) of the Dublin Regulation is likely to render the certification decision unlawful;

(ii)                If the respondent considers whether to exercise such discretion but decides not to do so, the return and reception of the person concerned will need to be well-planned. Although the Italian authorities would not want to leave a particularly vulnerable asylum seeker or BIP without support, the evidence indicates that there is no general process, similar to that which exists for families with children, to ensure that particularly vulnerable persons will not be at real risk of Article 3 treatment, while waiting for suitable support and accommodation, of which there is an acute shortage. In order to protect the rights of such a person in accordance with the respondent’s duties under the European Convention, the respondent would need to seek an assurance from the Italian authorities that suitable support and accommodation will be in place, before effecting a transfer. 

(iii)              It follows that a failure to obtain such an assurance prior to the transfer of a particularly vulnerable person is likely to give rise to a human rights claim that is not necessarily ‘bound to fail’ before the First-tier Tribunal.