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Translation of Singh v Belgium


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After seeing the Strasbourg case of Singh v Belgium (33210/11) highlighted here on Free Movement, Balkrishna Gurung of Howe + Co Solicitors (with assistance from David Saldanha) has commissioned a translation and offered to share it with blog readers. Many thanks!

The key paragraphs concerning the authentication of the documents are at  paragraphs 101 to 105. The commissioned translator is not familiar with the house style of Strasbourg, but it is clear that the failure to attach any weight to the documents submitted led to a finding that the national authorities had breached the right to an effective remedy protected by a combination of Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention.

Where document authentication by a national authority would be ‘easy to do’ and is highly material to the outcome, as in this case, the ‘careful and rigorous investigation’ always required of national authorities in protection cases requires that authentication process to take place, otherwise effective protection is not given against treatment contrary to Article 3.

The recent case of the Afghan interpreter who had been blown up on active service with UK forces provides a striking example of the total passivity of the UK Border Agency when it comes to verification, even where it would be simple to do. Media pressure happily brought about a good outcome to that case, but that level of interest is very rare. The Singh case clearly requires a rethink of the old and much criticised Tanveer Ahmed tribunal case, which pushes the burden to the claimant to authenticate any document relied on. Assuming that the UK Border Agency remains unwilling and incapable of even basic investigations or verification, the solution would seem to lie in barring the Agency from asserting that easily verifiable documents are inauthentic and in a new statement of principle from the tribunal disavowing or at least modifying Tanveer Ahmed.

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.