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Rwandan considered involved in genocide wins UK settlement appeal


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The case of Ruhumuliza (Article 1F and “undesirable”) [2016] UKUT 284 (IAC) concerns an Anglican bishop judged by the Secretary of State on the balance of probabilities to have been involved in crimes against humanity, specifically genocide, in Rwanda in 1994. He was therefore excluded from the protection of the Refugee Convention by the Secretary of State. He disputed the allegations but had not challenged the Home Office decision in court.

Without making findings either way on whether the allegations were true, a First-tier Tribunal judge found that even if the allegations were true the appellant was not an “undesirable migrant” now because his record since 1994 was relevant and there were “no reasons why it would be undesirable for the appellant to be given indefinite leave to remain on the grounds of long residence.”

On appeal by the Secretary of State, the Upper Tribunal finds no error in this approach:

The Tribunal noted that the claimant himself had, in the years immediately following the genocide, returned to Rwanda in order to help with reconciliation, had resigned his See in the hope that that would assist further, had taken part in memorial events and had issued a statement acknowledging his failings and apologising. Despite the starting assumption, he had not at any time been regarded by the Rwandan government as a perpetrator of genocide, had never been indicted, did not appear on any of the lists of those wanted for genocide and was indeed looked upon by the Rwandan government as one of its leading expatriate citizens. He has had a number of important international posts, and whilst he has been in the United Kingdom has attended, by invitation, significant diplomatic events including official meetings with the president of Rwanda. All these events have taken place against a background of disclosure of, and concern about, the claimant’s activities during the period of genocide. Given the level at which the claimant’s status and position has been recognised, it seems to us that it was amply open to the First-tier Tribunal to conclude as they did that, despite his history, he was at the present time not a person whose character, conduct and associations make it undesirable to grant him indefinite leave. That was a question that had to be assessed in the light of all the facts and it appears to us that the First-tier Tribunal did assess it in the light of all the facts.

The official headnote:

The fact that a person is excluded from the Refugee Convention does not of itself mean that his presence in the UK is undesirable within the meaning of the Immigration Rules.

Personally, I cannot see how the approach in this case sits easily with what is almost universally considered to be the public interest in prosecution of Nazi wartime concentration camp guards who are only identified many years later. It is arguable there are some crimes from which redemption is never possible, and indeed that this is in part what defines and marks the special category of “crimes against humanity” compared to the normal range of criminal offences. For an interesting exploration of these ideas, see Philippe Sand’s recent East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity and the tension in approach between Lauterpacht and Lemkin.

I suspect this appeal will progress to the higher courts.

Source: Ruhumuliza (Article 1F and “undesirable” : Rwanda) [2016] UKUT 284 (IAC) (19 May 2016)

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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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.