R v IMMIGRATION APPEAL TRIBUNAL ex parte NTANDO
Queen's Bench Division
 Imm AR 511
Hearing Date: 16 June 1994
16 June 1994
Political asylum -- membership of a social group -- whether a refugee can be described for the purposes of the Convention as a member of a particular social group, refugees, in the country to which he has fled. United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees, 1951 (Protocol 1967) art 1A (2).
Held:The applicant for leave to move for judicial review was a citizen of Angola. He had been granted refugee status in Brazil. After he had been there for two months he came to the United Kingdom. He applied for asylum: his application was refused. He appealed to a special adjudicator. He asserted that there was racism and a general hatred of refugees in Brazil where there were "no rights". The adjudicator did not find him generally credible but in any event concluded that even if his story of "verbal racist abuse" were true, it did not bring him within the Convention. His appeal was dismissed. The applicant sought leave to appeal to the Tribunal. The grounds submitted in support of the application were: "The adjudicator and the Secretary of State have erred in law in stating that the appellant's removal does not raise any issues as to the United Kingdom's obligation under the Convention and Protocol. The adjudicator has erred in law in stating that the harassment, verbal racist abuse and hatred of refugees in Brazil does not constitute fear of persecution within the meaning of the United Nations Conventions relating to the status of refugees. All refugees in Brazil should be classified as a special social group in (sic) which the appellant was a member and who clearly suffered from harassment for belonging to such a social group of people. The adjudicator has therefore erred in stating that the appellant's claim does not constitute a fear of persecution within the meaning of the United Nations Convention." Leave to appeal to the Tribunal was refused. Before the court the same contentions were argued. Held 1. Refugees were people of disparate social origins whose only common characteristic was a fear of persecution in their own country: their status as refugees was usually temporary and not evident to the community generally within which they had settled. 2. Such a status did not amount to membership of a particular social group for the purposes of the Convention.
Counsel:D Roberts for the applicant; R Tam for the respondent PANEL: Auld J
Judgment One:AULD J: This application for leave turns upon the question of whether a refugee in a country, who has fled there because of persecution in his own country, can be described, for the purpose of the Convention, as a member of a particular social group, namely refugees, in the country to which he has fled. There is, apparently, little authority on the meaning of that expression. Mr Tam has summarised some of the authorities to me. The first point to note about refugees is that their status as such is more or less temporary. They may be admitted to a country, given a right to remain there, and they cease to become refugees. Or they may be returned to their own country because they have not been able to establish a right of asylum. The second feature is that refugees come from all sorts of countries. They have different nationalities. They have different origins and different circumstances from which they flee. Their position as refugees is not necessarily known to the people with whom they live and with whom they work. There is nothing to mark them out as a refugee in some physical way to the general population. I adopt and add to Mr Tam's useful expression that they ". . . are people of disparate social origins whose only common characteristics are fear of persecution in their own country and whose status as a refugee is usually temporary and not evident to the community generally within which they have settled". In my view, it cannot be argued that such a status amounts to membership of a particular social group for the purpose of the Convention within the terms of which the Secretary of State made his decision here. The application is accordingly refused.
SOLICITORS:Singh & Choudry, London E8; Treasury Solicitor
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