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Returns to Iraq

Returns to Iraq

There have been two important developments on returns to Iraq in the last week.iraq032403a1.jpg

The first is that an unknown number of Iraqis appear to have been removed on a specially chartered flight on 27 March. According to the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees and Stop Deportations to Iraq, there are 200 Iraqis being held in detention and 55 of them were removed. I’ve never heard of either group before but these sorts of self-appointed interest groups are increasingly springing up in belated response to the appalling treatment asylum seekers receive from the UK government. The source was certainly being given credence by UNHCR London, who put out a request to lawyers for further information about the removals.

The second is that the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal have made a decision in the case of KH (Iraq) CG v SSHD [2008] UKAIT 00023. The hearing lasted one week and the determination has come out impressively quickly considering the difficult legal issues the Tribunal has had to address. The case concerns Article 15(c) of the EU Refugee Qualification Directive and the novel concept of protection on the basis of individual risk arising from indiscriminate violence. Spot the paradox there. The legal analysis and treatment of the central issue is superior to that in the rather half-cocked earlier decision in HH and others (Mogadishu: armed conflict: risk) Somalia CG v SSHD [2008] UKAIT 00022 but the bottom line is that the decision is essentially negative for most asylum seekers.

Is there a link between these two developments? If I was confident that the Home Office was a well oiled machine, I’d say ‘yes’. As a party they will have had advance notice of the outcome of the case, and would therefore have had time to plan a mass removal in its wake. It would have been sensible to wait for the outcome, as alert immigration lawyers may have been able to obtain High Court injunctions preventing removal pending the outcome of the case.

I wish I were wrong, but I very much doubt that anyone at the Home Office gives a damn what the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal or the courts thinks about the situation in Iraq, so I imagine this is in fact pure coincidence.

Free Movement
The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.

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