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Victim of “truly atrocious” past persecution can still be returned if country conditions change


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Another example of selective cessation of refugee status by the Home Office, ostensibly based on a change in the country of origin but in truth triggered by criminality on the part of the refugee.

In this case the refugee had entered the UK as a child but later committed several offences. The Upper Tribunal found that the Article 1C(5) exception to cessation of refugee status where the person can “invoke compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution for refusing to avail himself of the protection of the country of nationality” does not apply in normal, modern refugee cases (although it does in other EU member states due to the re-cast Qualification Directive). But on the facts of this case the appellant could not be expected to internally relocate to Mogadishu, a city he had never lived in.

The official headnote:

(1) The compelling reasons proviso in article 1C(5) of the 1951 Refugee Convention, as amended, applies in the UK only to refugees under article 1A(1) of the Convention.

(2) Changes in a refugee’s country of origin affecting only part of the country may, in principle, lead to cessation of refugee status, albeit it is difficult to see how in practice protection could be said to be sufficiently fundamental and durable in such circumstances.

(3) The SSHD’s guidance regarding the role of past persecution can not in itself form a lawful basis for finding that removal would lead to a breach of the Refugee Convention, given the limited appeal rights at section 82 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, as amended and SF and others (Guidance – post-2014 Act) Albania [2017] UKUT 120 (IAC)10 when read in its proper context.

The case is AMA (Article 1C(5) – proviso – internal relocation) [2019] UKUT 11 (IAC).

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

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.