A batch of new Upper Tribunal cases have been approved as safe for general consumption by the reporting committee. I posted up three of them yesterday as new short-form 'link format' posts with no real commentary, ... Read more
DSG & Others (Afghan Sikhs: departure from CG) Afghanistan  UKUT 148 (IAC)
Having done quite a few Afghan Sikh cases myself I can say this looks like a very sensible and pragmatic decision essentially disavowing the rather antiquated existing Country Guidance case on this group. A new CG case may be in the pipeline with Charlotte Bayati of Renaissance Chambers and Danny Bazini of No 5 Chambers as Counsel, I under stand. Official headnote as follows:
1. A judge may depart from existing country guidance in the circumstances described in Practice Direction 12.2 and 12.4 and the UT (IAC) Guidance Note 2011, no. 2, paragraphs 11 and 12.
2. The evidence before the judge in the present case justified his departure from the country guidance in SL & Others (Afghanistan) CG (Returning Sikhs and Hindus)  UKIAT 00137.
JL (medical reports-credibility) China  UKUT 145 (IAC)
Important read for anyone commissioning, writing or relying on medical reports in asylum cases. Official headnote:
(1) Those writing medical reports for use in immigration and asylum appeals should ensure where possible that, before forming their opinions, they study any assessments that have already been made of the appellant’s credibility by the immigration authorities and/or a tribunal judge (SS (Sri Lanka)  EWCA Civ 155 ; BN (psychiatric evidence discrepancies) Albania  UKUT 279 (IAC) at , )). When the materials to which they should have regard include previous determinations by a judge, they should not conduct a running commentary on the reasoning of the judge who has made such findings, but should concentrate on describing and evaluating the medical evidence (IY (Turkey)  EWCA Civ 1560 .
(2) They should also bear in mind that when an advocate wishes to rely on their medical report to support the credibility of an appellant’s account, they will be expected to identify what about it affords support to what the appellant has said and which is not dependent on what the appellant has said to the doctor (HE (DRC, credibility and psychiatric reports) Democratic Republic of Congo  UKAIT 000321). The more a diagnosis is dependent on assuming that the account given by the appellant was to be believed, the less likely it is that significant weight will be attached to it (HH (Ethiopia)  EWCA Civ 306 ).
(3) The authors of such medical reports also need to understand that what is expected of them is a critical and objective analysis of the injuries and/or symptoms displayed. They need to be vigilant that ultimately whether an appellant’s account of the underlying events is or is not credible and plausible is a question of legal appraisal and a matter for the tribunal judge, not the expert doctors (IY ; see also HH (Ethiopia)  EWCA Civ 306 -).
(4) For their part, judges should be aware that, whilst the overall assessment of credibility is for them, medical reports may well involve assessments of the compatibility of the appellant’s account with physical marks or symptoms, or mental condition: (SA (Somalia)  EWCA Civ 1302). If the position were otherwise, the central tenets of the Istanbul Protocol would be misconceived, whenever there was a dispute about claimed causation of scars, and judges could not apply its guidance, contrary to what they are enjoined to do by SA (Somalia). Even where medical experts rely heavily on the account given by the person concerned, that does not mean their reports lack or lose their status as independent evidence, although it may reduce very considerably the weight that can be attached to them.
OO (gay men: risk) Algeria  UKUT 63 (IAC)
a) “Sodomy” and “acts against nature with a member of the same sex” are illegal under Penal Code Article 388 and 333 in Algeria and on conviction carry a criminal sentence of up to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine.
b) Criminal prosecutions of gay men under Articles 388 and 333 are, however, extremely rare.
c) The evidence does not suggest that, as a general matter, societal and familial disapproval of male gay identity in Algeria reaches levels that are persecutory, within the meaning of Article 9 of the Qualification Directive or which otherwise reach the threshold required for protection under Article 15(b) of that Directive or Article 3 of the ECHR.
d) That conclusion is reinforced by the evidence that the admittedly small number of gay men who live openly as such in Algeria do not, in general, suffer serious harm amounting to persecution.
e) If somebody is able to establish that their behaviour was shaped by more than disapproval amounting to serious harm, they may be able to establish a need for protection. Each case should be determined on the evidence specific to that particular case.
A big thank you goes to Jane Heybroek of Bell Yard Chambers for persisting with her Freedom of Information request in relation to further documents concerning the Evidential Flexibility policy. You can access the ... Read more
Rodriguez (Flexibility Policy)  UKUT 00042 (IAC). About as good as it could be. Appeals to be allowed where UK Border Agency Points Based System decisions fail to apply the evidential flexibility policy.
CM (EM country guidance; disclosure) Zimbabwe CG  UKUT 00059 (IAC)
(BAILII link to follow when available)
- No general duty on Secretary of State to disclose evidence in asylum cases, only not to mislead by omission
- Overturned Country Guidance in case of EM and Others (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG  UKUT 98 (IAC) reinstated with amendment to account for RT (Zimbabwe)  UKSC 38
- Elections due in 2013, though, and situation is fluid. New country information is always to be taken into account.
The very recent reported case of Khatel and others (s85A; effect of continuing application) Nepal  UKUT 44 (IAC) consolidates the on going issues in relation to Points Based System Tier 1 Post Study Work ... Read more
Following on from the case of Ahmadi ( s. 47 decision: validity; Sapkota)  UKUT 00147 (IAC) the Upper Tribunal has (for now) resolved the perplexing issue of what to do when the Secretary of State combines a ... Read more