AMG (Pakistan) v Refugee Applications Commissioner, Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General

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Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Applications Commissioner, Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2014] IEHC 379
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:25 Jul 2014
Judge:Barr J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Asylum, Persecution, Refugee
Country of Origin:Pakistan
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/c21cfbff-f394-487f-8efe-22bb30019a94/2014_IEHC_379_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland
Facts:
The applicant was a national of Pakistan. He applied for asylum and claimed to have a fear of persecution at the hands of the Pakistani Taleban. He said claimed that this arose from his refusal of a request that he join the terrorist organisation which was made in 2004. After that refusal, he said he received threatening telephone calls and letters from the Taleban. He said that he reported this to the police on two occasions, and produced records of the complaints made in support of his asylum application. He was kidnapped by the Taleban in 2005, following which his father made a third report, a record of which he also submitted in support of his claim. He was released on payment of a ransom just over a week later. Later, he learned from friends that his house was under surveillance by suspicious people. This caused him to flee to his father-in-law’s house. He also began to receive threatening telephone calls, which prompted the applicant to relocate in Pakistan, remaining in Lahore for around two weeks, following which arrangements were made for him to leave for Ireland on a visitor’s visa. He came to Ireland in March, 2006 and remained on after expiry of the visa, only applying for asylum when he came to the attention of the immigration authorities in March, 2009. He said that in 2007, his father had received another threatening telephone call from the Taleban, and his wife was told to divorce him or be killed.
The Commissioner made a negative recommendation on his application for asylum. The applicant appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal affirmed the recommendation on the basis of lack of credibility and the availability of internal relocation. The applicant challenged its decision.
The applicant complained that the rejection of credibility had no rational basis in that it ignored the material contained in the three reports of the complaints made to the police, and was inconsistent with the Tribunal’s alternative finding that those reports showed that state protection would be available to him.
Reasoning:
The court agreed that the Tribunal’s rejection of his credibility was flawed, holding that if the Tribunal had wanted to make an adverse credibility finding against him, it had to deal specifically with the three police reports which corroborated his story. If it wished to ignore or disregard them, there was a duty on it to set out clearly why it was doing so.
The court held, however, that the Tribunal’s decision contained a lawful finding that state protection would be available to the applicant in Pakistan. Its decision noted that the police registered the complaints made by the applicant and his father and took action on the complaints as best they could on the limited information available. It also noted that there was country of origin information which showed that the Pakistani authorities were cracking down on the Taleban. It was satisfied that they took threats from it seriously.
The court also upheld the Tribunal’s finding that internal relocation would be available to the applicant. The Tribunal had noted that he was well-educated and had experience of working in Pakistan and Ireland. It considered it reasonable for him to move to another province of Pakistan away from the area where he maintained that he was known to the Taleban. In its view, considering the size and population of Pakistan, it would be unlikely that the applicant would be found were he to relocate. The court observed that he was able to move out of his house and to other areas in his province, without interference from the Taleban. It pointed out, in particular, that he had spent a reasonable amount of time in Lahore without any contact from it. He was a low-profile person and it would be easier for him to relocate within Pakistan in safety.
It applied the decision of Ryan J. in P.O. (Nigeria) v. Minister for Justice [2010] IEHC 513 that, in relation to internal relocation, it was not necessary for the respondent to build a case for internal relocation and that, where the threatened persecution was local and limited in area and personnel, it might well be sufficient to point out, if the evidence justified it, that other regions of the country in question would be available for the purpose of internal relocation.
Decision:
The court upheld the validity of the Tribunal’s decision.

Facts:

The applicant was a national of Pakistan. He applied for asylum and claimed to have a fear of persecution at the hands of the Pakistani Taleban. He claimed that this arose from his refusal of a request that he join the terrorist organisation which was made in 2004. After that refusal, he said he received threatening telephone calls and letters from the Taleban. He said that he reported this to the police on two occasions, and produced records of the complaints made in support of his asylum application. He was kidnapped by the Taleban in 2005, following which his father made a third report, a record of which he also submitted in support of his claim. He was released on payment of a ransom just over a week later. Later, he learned from friends that his house was under surveillance by suspicious people. This caused him to flee to his father-in-law’s house. He also began to receive threatening telephone calls, which prompted the applicant to relocate in Pakistan, remaining in Lahore for around two weeks, following which arrangements were made for him to leave for Ireland on a visitor’s visa. He came to Ireland in March, 2006 and remained on after expiry of the visa, only applying for asylum when he came to the attention of the immigration authorities in March, 2009. He said that in 2007, his father had received another threatening telephone call from the Taleban, and his wife was told to divorce him or be killed.

The Commissioner made a negative recommendation on his application for asylum. The applicant appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal affirmed the recommendation on the basis of lack of credibility and the availability of internal relocation. The applicant challenged its decision.

The applicant complained that the rejection of credibility had no rational basis in that it ignored the material contained in the three reports of the complaints made to the police, and was inconsistent with the Tribunal’s alternative finding that those reports showed that state protection would be available to him.

Reasoning:

The court agreed that the Tribunal’s rejection of his credibility was flawed, holding that if the Tribunal had wanted to make an adverse credibility finding against him, it had to deal specifically with the three police reports which corroborated his story. If it wished to ignore or disregard them, there was a duty on it to set out clearly why it was doing so.

The court held, however, that the Tribunal’s decision contained a lawful finding that state protection would be available to the applicant in Pakistan. Its decision noted that the police registered the complaints made by the applicant and his father and took action on the complaints as best they could on the limited information available. It also noted that there was country of origin information which showed that the Pakistani authorities were cracking down on the Taleban. It was satisfied that they took threats from it seriously.

The court also upheld the Tribunal’s finding that internal relocation would be available to the applicant. The Tribunal had noted that he was well-educated and had experience of working in Pakistan and Ireland. It considered it reasonable for him to move to another province of Pakistan away from the area where he maintained that he was known to the Taleban. In its view, considering the size and population of Pakistan, it would be unlikely that the applicant would be found were he to relocate. The court observed that he was able to move out of his house and to other areas in his province, without interference from the Taleban. It pointed out, in particular, that he had spent a reasonable amount of time in Lahore without any contact from it. He was a low-profile person and it would be easier for him to relocate within Pakistan in safety.

It applied the decision of Ryan J. in P.O. (Nigeria) v. Minister for Justice [2010] IEHC 513 that, in relation to internal relocation, it was not necessary for the respondent to build a case for internal relocation and that, where the threatened persecution was local and limited in area and personnel, it might well be sufficient to point out, if the evidence justified it, that other regions of the country in question would be available for the purpose of internal relocation.

Decision:

The court upheld the validity of the Tribunal’s decision.

Principles:

A protection-decision maker which wishes to reject the credibility of an applicant’s claim of persecution must give a rational explanation for placing no or little weight on documents which tend to corroborate aspects of that claim.

A finding that state protection is available to an applicant for protection will be open to a protection-decision maker where it is based on cogent country of origin information and, as the case may be, documentation submitted by the applicant in support of his claim indicating that the police in his country of origin had acted on foot of complaints made to them in the past about threats or ill-treatment at the hands of his tormentors.

A finding that internal relocation is available to an applicant for protection will be open to a protection-decision maker where it is based on cogent country of origin information and, as the case may be, evidence of the protection applicant to the effect that he relocated in safety in his country of origin previously. It is not necessary for a protection decision-maker who considers that internal relocation is available to explore in great detail the alternative life open to the applicant there. Where the threatened persecution is local and limited in area and personnel, it may be sufficient to point out, if the evidence justifies it, that other regions of the country in question would be available for the purpose of internal relocation.

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