The Cameroonian applicant applied for asylum, was refused by the Refugee Applications Commissioner and appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The applicant claimed, inter alia, to have been an SCNC sympathiser – and latterly an SDF member and alleged that he was arrested during political demonstrations, detained and tortured. The applicant furnished the Tribunal with medico-legal reports which stated, inter alia, that some of the applicant’s scars were “consistent” with the torture claimed and that certain other of the applicant’s scars were “highly consistent” with the torture claimed.
The Tribunal rejected the applicant’s appeal stating that it had the benefit of the provisions of the Istanbul Protocol and noting that the Protocol defined “consistent with” as “the lesion could have been caused by the trauma described but it is non-specific and there are many other possible causes.” The Istanbul Protocol in fact defines “highly consistent with” as “the lesions could have been caused by the trauma described and there few other possible causes.” The Tribunal did not refer to this. The applicant also furnished the Tribunal with a considerable amount of country information from recent years that tended to show that the Cameroonian authorities tortured political dissenters. The Tribunal specifically referred to the UK Fact Finding Mission Report 2004, which stated that while torture had been used in Cameroon, its perpetrators have been punished by law.
The applicant sought to quash the Tribunal’s decision by way of judicial review, arguing that the Tribunal failed to correctly consider the medical evidence and misapplied the Istanbul Protocol and breached fair procedures in failing to consider all the relevant country of origin documents and using the country information selectively.The Court granted the relief sought. The Court held that in assessing the applicant’s credibility, the Tribunal placed reliance upon a significant error of fact in that the Tribunal erroneously noted that the injuries in question were merely “consistent with” the alleged torture. The Court also held that the Tribunal failed to have regard to the whole picture in the applicant’s country of origin and did not meaningfully attempt to assess the claim of torture in the context of the country information in that the Tribunal did not engage with the overwhelming evidence that torture of political dissenters in Cameroon was endemic and systematic. Finally, the Court held that the Tribunal was selective in its use of country of origin reports in selecting the information preferred on the basis that it was the most up-to-date information available while failing to take into account a significant body of other information that was neither so old nor so out of date as to justify the Tribunal’s failure to take it into account.