Belgium - Council for Alien Law Litigation, 31 May 2010, Nr. 44.471

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
31-05-2010
Citation:
Nr. 44.471
Court Name:
Council for Alien Law Litigation
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Headnote: 
When it comes to establishing the facts of a case, the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) cannot limit itself to finding that the applicant has not provided any documentary evidence and that its own research was unsuccessful. This would give the false impression that in asylum matters documentary evidence is a primary or even a determining factor.
Facts: 
In her asylum application, the applicant a Russian citizen from Chechnya, claimed that Kadyrovtsy (followers of the pro-Moscow president of Chechnya) had abducted her because she was not wearing a headscarf. The CGRS rejected the application considering:

(1) that the application was based solely on the applicant’s statements, given that the applicant had not provided any exhibits in support of her statements that would allow the decision maker to conclusively determine the  well-founded fear (such as newspaper articles or witness statements);

(2) that research conducted by the documentation service of the CGRS had not revealed any trace of the events described by the applicant; and

(3) that the applicant had not claimed that her mother, who had remained in the country of origin, had experienced problems, and that there were no elements indicating that the applicant was still being sought in her country of origin.
Decision & Reasoning: 
In its decision the CALL ruled that the reasons given in the CGRS’ decision were insufficient to support a decision in which refugee status and subsidiary protection status were denied.
 
According to the CALL, “the process of establishing the facts cannot be limited to the finding that the applicant has not provided documentary evidence and that the CGRS’ own research was unsuccessful, except if that research would relate to events, the gravity of which would necessarily lead to media coverage, and if the particular nature of the invoked facts obviously implied that one could expect from the applicant that he/she supports his/her application with documentary exhibits, which is not the case here.”
 
The CALL concluded that in the case at hand “the reasons given in the CGRS’ decision have no relevance and give the false impression that in asylum matters documentary evidence is of a primary, or even a determining nature.”

The CALL then observed that the CGRS’ reasons for refusal were irrelevant, namely that there was no or limited evidence on the problems the applicant’s mother would have faced, and that the applicant had no or limited evidence that would allow it to be believed that the applicant would still be sought in her country of origin.

According to the CALL the CGRS gave “the false impression that the applicant could only have a current fear of persecution or face a real risk of serious harm if they were being sought by the authorities: if such searches are taking place, that confirms the existence of a fear or a risk, but such a search cannot be taken as a necessary condition for establishing their existence.”

On this basis, the CALL concluded that the CGRS’ examination of the facts was entirely insufficient.
Outcome: 
The CALL concluded that the CGRS’ examination of the facts was entirely insufficient.