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New country guidance case on returns to Iraq


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BA (Returns to Baghdad) Iraq CG [2017] UKUT 00018 (IAC). Relatively concise and focussed at only 34 pages. There is no general risk of persecution but some will be at risk, particularly anyone perceived as a collaborator with foreign coalition forces, and if so there is unlikely to be sufficient protection. Those who do not succeed on refugee c=grounds could still succeed under Article 15(c). Official headnote:

(i)      The level of general violence in Baghdad city remains significant, but the current evidence does not justify departing from the conclusion of the Tribunal in AA (Article 15(c)) Iraq CG [2015] UKUT 00544 (IAC).

(ii)     The evidence shows that those who worked for non-security related Western or international companies, or any other categories of people who would be perceived as having collaborated with foreign coalition forces, are still likely to be at risk in areas which are under ISIL control or have high levels of insurgent activity. At the current time the risk is likely to emanate from Sunni insurgent groups who continue to target Western or international companies as well as those who are perceived to collaborate with the Government of Iraq.

(iii)    The current evidence indicates that the risk in Baghdad to those who worked for non-security related Western or international companies is low although there is evidence to show that insurgent groups such as ISIL are active and capable of carrying out attacks in the city. In so far as there may be a low level of risk from such groups in Baghdad it is not sufficient to show a real risk solely as a perceived collaborator.

(iv)    Kidnapping has been, and remains, a significant and persistent problem contributing to the breakdown of law and order in Iraq. Incidents of kidnapping are likely to be underreported. Kidnappings might be linked to a political or sectarian motive; other kidnappings are rooted in criminal activity for a purely financial motive. Whether a returnee from the West is likely to be perceived as a potential target for kidnapping in Baghdad may depend on how long he or she has been away from Iraq. Each case will be fact sensitive, but in principle, the longer a person has spent abroad the greater the risk. However, the evidence does not show a real risk to a returnee in Baghdad on this ground alone.

(v)     Sectarian violence has increased since the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces in 2012, but is not at the levels seen in 2006-2007. A Shia dominated government is supported by Shia militias in Baghdad. The evidence indicates that Sunni men are more likely to be targeted as suspected supporters of Sunni extremist groups such as ISIL. However, Sunni identity alone is not sufficient to give rise to a real risk of serious harm.

(vi)    Individual characteristics, which do not in themselves create a real risk of serious harm on return to Baghdad, might amount to a real risk for the purpose of the Refugee Convention, Article 15(c) of the Qualification Directive or Article 3 of the ECHR if assessed on a cumulative basis. The assessment will depend on the facts of each case.

(vii)   In general, the authorities in Baghdad are unable, and in the case of Sunni complainants, are likely to be unwilling to provide sufficient protection.

Source: Tribunal decisions

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.