United Kingdom – Upper Tribunal rules in case regarding consent of asylum seeker and inquiries in country of origin

Friday, September 21, 2018

The case before the Upper Tribunal concerned a Bangladeshi national who arrived in the UK in 2012. In 2016 he claimed asylum, the basis of his claim being that he was at risk in his home country due to his membership in a political party that led to an arrest warrant issued for him. In support of his claim, the applicant submitted two First Information Reports (FIR) and two charge sheets from a police station in Bangladesh. The British High Commission in Dhaka then carried out a verification exercise for these documents, visiting the police station and talking to the officer in command. The inquiry was made without the appellant’s consent and, according to the applicant, constituted a move that had alerted the persecutors mentioned in his asylum application.

The Court initially pointed out that the UK’s obligations in this area are contained in Article 22 of Directive 2005/85/EC, as transposed in national law. These provisions prohibit making such an inquiry in the country of origin in a manner that would result in alleged actors of persecution being directly informed of the fact that an application for international protection has been made, which would jeopardise an applicant's (or their family's) physical integrity, liberty or security. However, the Court found in this occasion that the information requested by the British authorities could not rationally be said to have created a risk to the appellant, if returned to Bangladesh, as the documents were not genuine and the registry numbers did not correspond to the applicant’s personal information.

The Court noted that in the opposite scenario the police would have been informed of the appellant's name and his application for international protection from the authorities in Bangladesh. Such a scenario would have in fact materially supported the appellant's claim to a very significant extent but would also have created a possible increased risk due to the Bangladeshi authorities becoming aware of the asylum application. This, however, does not change the previous finding that there is no risk in the specific case in question, although the Court noted that the State could be expected to have regard to that increased risk, in determining whether international protection should be granted to the appellant.

The Court concluded that there is no general legal requirement on the immigration authorities to obtain the consent of an applicant for international protection before making an inquiry about the applicant in the applicant's country of origin. It confirmed, however, that if information is obtained in a way that would result in the applicant’s, or their families, risk, the fact that the applicant may have given consent will not affect the fact that there is a breach of Article 22 of Directive 2005/85/EC.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.



Country of origin