Am & Am (Armed Conflict: Risk Categories)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtAsylum and Immigration Tribunal
JudgePerkins,P R Lane,Storey
Judgment Date29 October 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] UKAIT 91

[2008] UKAIT 91

Asylum and Immigration Tribunal

The Immigration Acts

Before

Senior Immigration Judge Storey

Senior Immigration Judge P R Lane

Senior Immigration Judge Perkins

Between
AM
AM
Appellant
and
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Respondent
Representation:

For the Appellant: Mr R Toal of Counsel and Mr S Sayeed of Counsel instructed by South Manchester Law Centre and Wilson & Co

For the Respondent: Miss E Laing QC and Miss D Rhee instructed by the Treasury Solicitor

AM & AM (armed conflict: risk categories) Somalia CG

  • 1. When considering the question of whether a person is eligible for refugee protection on the basis of exposure to armed conflict, Adan [1998] 2 WLR 703 does not permit decision makers to reject their claims per se.

  • 2. A person may be able to succeed in a claim to protection based on poor socio-economic or dire humanitarian living conditions under the Refugee Convention or Article 15 of the Qualification Directive or Article 3, although to succeed on this basis alone the circumstances would have to be extremely unusual.

  • 3. In the context of Article 15(c) the serious and individual threat involved does not have to be a direct effect of the indiscriminate violence; it is sufficient if the latter is an operative cause.

  • 4. The Opinion of the Advocate General in Elgafaji, 9 September 2008 in Case C-465/07 does not afford an adequately reasoned basis for departing from the guidance given on the law in the reported cases of the Tribunal on Article 15(c), namely HH and others (Mogadishu: armed conflict: risk) Somalia CG [2008] UKAIT 00022 and KH (Article 15(c) Qualification Directive) Iraq CG [2008] UKAIT 00023.

  • 5. Before the Tribunal will take seriously a challenge to the historic validity of a Tribunal country guidance case, it would need submissions which seek to adduce all relevant evidence, for or against, the proposed different view. The historic validity of the guidance given in HH is confirmed.

  • 6. However, as regards the continuing validity of the guidance given in HH, the Tribunal considers that there have been significant changes in the situation in central and southern Somalia, such that the country guidance in that case is superseded to the following extent:

    • (i)There is now an internal armed conflict within the meaning of international humanitarian law (IHL) and Article 15(c) of the Refugee Qualification Directive throughout central and southern Somalia, not just in and around Mogadishu. The armed conflict taking place in Mogadishu currently amounts to indiscriminate violence at such a level of severity as to place the great majority of the population at risk of a consistent pattern of indiscriminate violence. On the present evidence Mogadishu is no longer safe as a place to live in for the great majority of returnees whose home area is Mogadishu;

    • (ii) Assessment of the extent to which internally displaced persons (IDPs) face greater or lesser hardships, at least outside Mogadishu (where security considerations are particularly grave,) will vary significantly depending on a number of factors;

    • (iii) For those whose home area is not Mogadishu, they will not in general be able to show a real risk of persecution or serious harm or ill treatment simply on the basis that they are a civilian or even a civilian internally displaced person (IDP) and from such and such a home area, albeit much will depend on the precise state of the background evidence relating to their home area at the date of decision or hearing;

    • (iv) As regards internal relocation, whether those whose home area is Mogadishu (or any other part of central and southern Somalia) will be able to relocate in safety and without undue hardship will depend on the evidence as to the general circumstances in the relevant parts of central and southern Somalia and the personal circumstances of the applicant. Whether or not it is likely that relocation will mean that they have to live for a substantial period in an IDP camp, will be an important but not necessarily a decisive factor;

    • iv) As a result of the current conflict between the TFG/Ethiopians and the insurgents, the Sheikhal clan (including the Sheikhal Logobe), by virtue of the hostile attitude taken towards them by Al Shabab, is less able to secure protection for its members than previously, although both as regards their risk of persecution and serious harm and their protection much will depend on the particular circumstances of any individual clan member's case.

  • 7. Where a particular route and method of return is implicit in an immigration decision it is within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to deal with issues of en route safety on return: see AG (Somalia) [2006] EWCA Civ 1342. But in the context of Somali appeals currently, the method of return is far too uncertain and so any opinion the Tribunal expresses on such issues can only be given on an obiter basis.

DETERMINATION 1 AND REASONS
1

Just over ten years ago in one of the first major cases dealing with refugee issues to come before our most senior court, the House of Lords in Adan [1998] 2 WLR 703 was concerned with the case of an applicant who had fled from Somalia in June 1988 owing to a well founded fear of persecution at the hands of the then government. Addressing the applicant's claim to have a current fear of persecution Lord Slynn of Hadley referred at p.705 A-D to the situation being one where “law and order has broken down” and “where…every group seems to be fighting some other group or groups in an endeavour to gain power”. Their lordships did not find that the nature of the conflict meant that Mr Adan qualified for refugee protection. Looking at the situation in Somalia today, it would be easy to think not much has changed. Yet whilst violence and conflict have continued to be endemic in that country, owing to the different forms it has taken (and perhaps to developments in the law) in the intervening years real questions have arisen about whether broad categories of Somali applicants face either a real risk of persecution or serious harm or ill treatment. They arose just over a year ago in HH & others (Mogadishu: armed conflict: risk) Somalia CG [2008] UKAIT 00022 (hereafter “ HH”). They arise again today.

The Appeals
2

The first appellant, whom we shall call AM1, is a national of Somalia born on 6 January 1977. He arrived in the UK on 4 June 2005 and claimed asylum soon after. His application was refused and on 6 September 2005 Immigration Judge (IJ) Gladstone dismissed his appeal against that refusal. He went to Ireland and claimed asylum there. Having been sent back from Ireland by the Irish authorities on 2 February 2006, he made a further claim for asylum on 3 February 2006. He was again refused and his appeal came before IJ Glossop who dismissed it on 22 December 2006. Quite unusually the respondent then accepted a further claim made by AM1 on 9 May 2007. The decision of the respondent dated 10 November 2007 to refuse that application and to remove AM1 as an illegal entrant led to a further appeal which resulted in a determination by IJ D N Harris sent on

18 February 2008 dismissing his appeal. Reconsideration was ordered on 6 March 2008 and on 4 August 2008 Senior Immigration Judge (SIJ) Storey decided there was a material error of law: the text of that decision is set out at Annex 1
3

The second appellant, whom we shall call AM2, is a national of Somalia born on 1 January 1986 who claimed to have arrived in the UK on 28 October 2003. His asylum claim made on the same day was refused on 25 November 2003 but thereafter the respondent accepted an application by him for further leave made on 15 June 2005. That was refused on 25 April 2007. His appeal against that refusal was dismissed by IJ Beg on 8 August 2007. Following an order for reconsideration made that same month, SIJ Jordan in a decision dated 23 January 2008 found a material error of law. The text of that decision is contained in Annex 2.

Procedural History
4

At the outset of the hearing Mr Toal asked us to admit further “subjective” evidence in respect of both appellants. In the case of AMI this consisted in a statement from him dated 2 October 2008 (sent to the Tribunal a day later) and, in the case of AM2, two statements dated 18 September 2008 and 22 October 2008. Although Miss Laing did not oppose their admission we have decided not to take them into account. As was made abundantly clear in the directions the Tribunal sent to the parties following the Case Management Review (CMR) hearing on 29 July 2008, both cases proceeded on the basis of the findings of fact made by the IJ at the appeal hearing. Neither appellant was found credible in relation to their claimed past experiences in Somalia. In the case of AMI the grounds for reconsideration (drafted by Mr Toal) raised no challenge to the IJ's adverse credibility findings and both the order for reconsideration and the decision finding a material error of law (made on 4 August 2008) were confined to general issues. In AM2's case, whilst the grounds for reconsideration did challenge the IJ's adverse credibility findings, that challenge was rejected by SIJ Jordan in his decision finding a material error of law, dated 23 January 2008. It is true that the latter decision did confirm that a certain, very limited, number of facts relating to AM2 had been accepted (we will return to this subject in a moment), but in no manner was anything said to indicate that the Tribunal at second stage reconsideration was to revisit the findings made in relation to the appellant's history.

5

Furthermore, neither at the CMR hearing on 29 July 2008 nor within the time period specified for further evidence to be submitted, did those representing either appellant express any disagreement with the basis on which the second stage reconsideration was ordered to proceed.

6

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