Ahmed (Munir) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLORD JUSTICE HENRY,LORD JUSTICE BUXTON,LADY JUSTICE ARDEN,LORD JUSTICE BROOKE
Judgment Date18 May 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] EWCA Civ 636,[2001] EWCA Civ 306
Date18 May 2005
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Docket NumberC4/2005/0610,Case No: C/2000/0589

[2001] EWCA Civ 306

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE

COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM THE IMMIGRATION APPEAL TRIBUNAL

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

Lord Justice Henry

Lord Justice Buxton and

Lady Justice Arden

Case No: C/2000/0589

Munir Ahmed
Appellant
and
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Respondent

R P Scannell Esq (instructed by Messrs Wilson & Co for the Appellant)

Ms L Giovannetti (instructed by Treasury Solicitors for the Respondent)

LORD JUSTICE HENRY
1

Mr Munir Ahmed appeals to us with the leave of the Single Lord Justice from the decision of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal of 15th February 2000, dismissing his appeal from the decision of Mr Bennet, the Special Adjudicator, who on 28th September 1998 refused his application for asylum. It will be seen that there was a finding that this applicant had been tortured by the police. There are parallel proceedings under Section 65 of the Immigration & Asylum Act, 1999, which Lord Justice Buxton deals with in his judgment.

2

He is a citizen of Pakistan. On 26th February 1998 (when he was 25) he arrived in the United Kingdom on a false passport, hoping to travel on to Canada. However, his false passport was discovered and he claimed asylum. He was held in custody, but released prior to his appeal to the Special Adjudicator.

3

He was interviewed by the Immigration Officer and gave an account which was largely consistent with his evidence when it was finally given. He told how he came from a family of Sunni Muslims who lived in the Punjab. His younger brother, Mohammed Saquib and his cousin Nasser Ahmed were members of an extremist Sunni Muslim movement, the SSP. There was considerable animosity between the Sunni extremists (as the SSP were) and the Shia extremists in the Punjab. Each group regarded the other as the infidel. The appellant's brother and his cousin had been party to criminal actions with the SSP. The appellant was not involved in these activities, but nonetheless he was picked up and detained by the police on a number of occasions, and on the last occasion subjected to torture. Soon after this experience he fled the country.

4

The Convention defines a refugee as any person who:

" owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside his country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."

5

The Special Adjudicator found that he had been tortured by the police, that he had a well-founded fear of persecution, that that fear of persecution was well-founded, either in Gujarat, where he came from, or in Pakistan as a whole. But he found that the treatment to which the police had subjected him was not caused by any of the Convention reasons cited in the definition of refugee above. So he appealed to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, from whom he now appeals to us.

6

The demographic background of Pakistan is that 96% of the population are Muslims. Seventy-six percent of those are Sunni Muslims, and most, but not all, of the remainder are Shia Muslims. Both the Sunnis and the Shias have extremist elements. But as will be seen there was no evidence that the police force, or a majority of the police force, were Shias or belonged to Shia political parties. It was accepted that both the appellant's younger brother and his cousin were involved in this group of militant Sunnis. Such militants are opposed to any interpretation of Islam other than theirs, and believe that those who do not share their interpretation are infidels.

7

The appellant's account of the police's interest in him was largely accepted by the Adjudicator:

"Mr Ahmed's evidence was substantially in accordance with what he had said at interview. He told that:

a)although some five years ago, he had been involved in the Sunni group of which Mohammed Saquib had been a member, he had ceased to be involved shortly afterwards and he had not been involved now for some four years. The group had been called Sipah Shahaba.

b)[His brother] Mohammed Saquib had been involved in the killing of Shia Muslims. He (Mr Ahmed) had never himself been involved in killings or woundings of Shias or in encouraging activity of that sort.

c) There had been three or four occasions when he had been arrested and detained for substantial periods. There had been other occasions when he had been arrested for 1–2 hours and simply been beaten and released.

d) The first of those substantial periods of arrest had been at the end of 1995 (see above para 2(d).

e) The second of those incidents had been in January 1997 (as opposed to early 1996 in interview) when he had been arrested and accused of possession of illegal weapons. He had been detained for 10–11 days. During that period he had been questioned as to the whereabouts of Mohammed Saquib and the weapons which he (Mohammed Saquib) had. The police had punched him and slapped him in the face. Mr Ahmed had told the police all that he could (which had not been much).

f) The next substantial occasion on which he had been detained had been in March 1997. Again the questioning had been directed to the whereabouts of Mohammed Saquib but the police had also asked whether he (Mr Ahmed) had himself been involved and/or had accompanied Mohammed Saquib and taken part in activities with him. They had also questioned him with a view to determining whether he had been involved in a recent incident in which two or three Shias had been killed in a disturbance. Mr Ahmed had been aware that the Sipah Shahaba group had been involved in the killings and that his brother and cousin had been named in local newspapers as having been responsible.

g) On that occasion, the police had beaten him continuously for 3–4 hours and had placed lighted cigarettes on his feet and the lower parts of his legs. They had also threatened to charge him with involvement in the killings.

h) He feared that if he were to return and were charged with murder, the police would kill him in the police station.

i) After his release from custody in April 1997, he had gone to the family farm. The police had, from time to time, started visiting there. He had always been able to hide from them. But their coming had led him to believe that it was no longer safe for him to remain there."

8

There were two pieces of evidence independent of him. The first is a First Information Report. It is dated 10th March 1998 and deals with a Shia procession. It states:

"In the procession mourning parties were mourning. Mohallah Mughalpura resident, Mohammed Saqib who are active members of SSP along with their companions fired upon the procession due to which few persons of the procession injured but the nature of the injuries was minor. They have interfired [sic] in our creed. They have fired unauthorisedly. The firing party was Mohammed Saqib, Naseer Ahmed and Munir Ahmed who are residents of our Mollah and are recognised by me"

Below, under the heading "Action by Police" it says:

"As per above statement, Mohammed Saqib, Naseer Ahmed, and Munir Ahmed has done a crime by firing and interfering in other creed. A case against him has been registered under section 295/A, 298,324 PPC. Special Report along with copy of FIR is being sent to higher authority for information."

9

The purported identification of Munir Ahmed was plainly mistaken, because on 10th March 1998 he was in detention in the United Kingdom. However, a warrant for his arrest was issued in Gujarat requiring him to be produced before the magistrate on 9th May 1998. That warrant was not backed for bail.

10

The second piece of evidence was a medical report from Mr Andrew Mason FRCS. He observed a number of scars, including those identified by Mr Ahmed as being the sites of cigarette burns. His view was that Ahmed's scars were in accordance with his account of their causation. The scars identified as having been caused by cigarette burns were in his view, typical of the scars which one would expect from an injury inflicted by a lighted cigarette. For this and other reasons the doctor recorded that Mr Ahmed's scars were in accord with his account of their causation.

11

Having summarised all the facts the Adjudicator, in paragraph 10 reminded himself that throughout 1997 the conflict between the Sunni SSP and the Shi'ites continued. Against that background he saw nothing improbable in Mr Ahmed's account of his brother and cousin being involved with SSP, and therefore coming to be under suspicion of having been involved in killings, woundings and other public order offences, or the police calling at his family home to arrest him both on suspicion of involvement and in order to obtain information from him of his cousin's whereabouts, and as to the type of weapons which they had or, when he was arrested, the police using violence on him. Nor was there anything surprising in the fact that after his arrest and detention in March 1997 he had gone to the family farm with a view to avoid further trouble from the police, but that ultimately they had come there to look for him.

12

Against all that background the Adjudicator concluded as follows:

"However, it [is] quite clear from Mr Ahmed's evidence that the cause of the action which the police took against him ie the arrests and the maltreatment which he received, was and the cause of any action which they may take if he is returned to Pakistan will be primarily the desire to obtain information as to the whereabouts of his brother Mohammed Saquib and his cousin Nasser Ahmed and the type of weapons which they had, and secondly because they believe...

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