REFUGEE APPEAL NO. 582/92
AT AUCKLAND

Before: B.O. Nicholson (Chairman)
  R.P.G. Haines (Member)
  P. Mohajer (Member)
Counsel for the Appellant: Mr R.J. Hooker
Appearing for the NZIS: No appearance
Date of Hearing: 9 September 1993
Date of Decision: 3 December 1993

DECISION OF THE AUTHORITY DELIVERED BY R.P.G. HAINES

This is an appeal against the decision of the Refugee Status Section of the New Zealand Immigration Service declining the grant of refugee status to the appellant, a citizen of Bangladesh.

INTRODUCTION

The appellant is thirty-four years of age and has lived most of his life in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. He married for the first time on 15 September 1989 at Dhaka but he claims that that relationship soon failed and after several months there was a divorce. On 8 March 1990 he arrived in New Zealand. On 25 May 1990 at Christchurch he obtained a permit to work as a chef until 8 March 1991.

On 4 March 1991 at Auckland the appellant married a New Zealand citizen and on 7 March 1991 applied for residence on the basis of that marriage. On 23 July 1991 the New Zealand Immigration Service conducted a marriage interview of both the appellant and the woman he introduced as his wife. During the course of the interview this woman told the immigration officer that she was not the appellant's wife. Confronted with this information the appellant was adamant that the woman was in fact his wife. Not surprisingly, the appellant was asked to attend a second interview together with the spouse named in the marriage certificate tendered in support of the residence application. The appellant did not attend the interview but his then solicitors wrote to the Immigration Service advising that the appellant's marriage had broken up subsequent to the interview as a result of the appellant's discovery, at the interview, that the woman he married in the honest belief that she was the lady named in the marriage certificate was not in fact who she claimed to be and that he had been misled as to her identity.

By letter dated 22 August 1991 the appellant's residence application based on marriage grounds was declined.

On 28 August 1991 the Immigration Service received an application by the appellant for refugee status.

On 3 April 1992 the appellant was interviewed by the Refugee Status Section of the Immigration Service. He was assisted by an interpreter. His then counsel was also present. Following the interview the appellant's then counsel was provided with a typed interview report containing a summary of the appellant's claims as understood by the Refugee Status Section. The appellant was afforded an opportunity to comment on the document within ten working days from 15 April 1992. No comments were provided. By letter dated 8 May 1992 the appellant was advised that his application for refugee status had been declined. By letter dated 12 May 1992 the appellant, through counsel, gave notice of his appeal against that decision.

The appellant's appeal was first set down for hearing on 10 August 1993. That fixture was vacated at the request of Messrs Vallant Hooker & Partners who had recently been instructed by the appellant. A medical certificate was produced showing that the appellant was ill and would be unable to attend a hearing for seven days. Two subsequent fixtures were made. Each attracted a further adjournment application. The first application succeeded. The second did not. The circumstances of the applications are fully set out in the Authority's Decision on Adjournment Application dated 9 September 1993.

For completeness we mention that in the light of the refusal of the adjournment application made on 9 September 1993, Mr Hooker, at the conclusion of the hearing, after referring to the refusal, stated that he made no submissions as to the nature of the determination to be made by the Authority. That is, he made no submissions as to whether the Authority is required by its Terms of Reference to decide whether the appellant is a refugee within the meaning of Article 1A(2) of the Refugee Convention and Protocol, or whether the Authority has power only to make a recommendation to the Minister of Immigration as to whether the appellant meets the prescribed criteria for refugee status. In this regard the Authority is of the view that the appeal must be decided on the basis of the Terms of Reference, i.e. the Authority is required to determine whether or not the appellant is a refugee: Santokh Singh v Refugee Status Appeals Authority (High Court Auckland, M1224/93, 22 October 1993, Smellie J).

We only need add that at the hearing on 9 September 1993, in addition to applying for an adjournment on jurisdictional grounds, Mr Hooker also told the Authority that although he had had the appellant's file in his possession on the previous day, it could not be found on the morning of the hearing. He did not seek an adjournment on that ground and asked that the appeal proceed provided leave was reserved for the appellant to produce, upon location of the file, two photographs and a newspaper or magazine article. Leave was accordingly reserved. These items were subsequently submitted to the Authority under cover of a letter from Vallant Hooker & Partners dated 10 September 1993.

Also tendered at the hearing were facsimile copies of the following documents:

(a)A letter on the letterhead of the Bangladesh Satra Ligue [sic] (undated).

(b)A letter on the letterhead of the Jatiya Party (undated).

(c)A Discharge Certificate issued by Dhaka Medical College Hospital dated 30 October 1989.

The last of these documents shows a transmission date of "09/06/93" which could either be translated as 9 June 1993 or alternatively, 6 September 1993. The appellant when asked when the documents had been received stated that it was his belief, on referring to the facsimile transmission details printed on the document, that the date was 9 June 1993. On being pressed on the point he stated that he had received the document in the last few days. In that case, the transmission date was more likely to be 6 September 1993, the appellant's confusion notwithstanding.

The facsimile documents were admitted in evidence on the basis that upon the arrival in New Zealand of the original documents, they would be submitted to the Authority.

On the facsimile page containing the Discharge Certificate there was a handwritten note to the appellant from his friend in Dhaka, Bangladesh, who had transmitted the documents to him. The note, as translated by the interpreter who assisted at the appeal hearing, is in the following terms:

"[name deleted]

Best wishes. Over the last week the Dhaka city has been flooded with rain. The people are using boats to come to work in Motijheel area. Above 750 commercial fax machines are out of order in Motijheel area. I tried for three days to get a connection. Having failed to do so I went to Banani to send you a fax. After flood situation gets better, I shall arrange to send a copy of your warrant. Let me know by phoned your circumstances.

[name deleted]

6/9/93"

In view of the reference to "your warrant" and to the fact that at that stage the Vallant Hooker & Partners file had been mislaid, the Authority undertook not to issue its decision for thirty days to allow production of the warrant, the documents from the missing file and the originals of the documents which had been received by facsimile.

As at the date of delivery of this decision none of these documents had been produced with the exception of the documents from the missing file.

Further submissions on the political and human rights situation were submitted by the appellant's solicitors under cover of a letter dated 3 November 1993. This material has been taken into account by the Authority.

BACKGROUND

Before turning to the details of the appellant's case, it is necessary to refer briefly to some important events in recent Bangladesh political history. The following quote is from Refugee Appeal No. 25/92 Re AS (9 July 1992):

"Bangladesh became independent in 1971 and initially adopted a parliamentary system. But Parliament abruptly changed the constitution in 1975 and introduced a one-party presidential system. It also imposed restrictions on press freedom and civil rights. Three months later, after a bloody military coup in which the country's founding father, Sheik Mujibur Rahman, was assassinated, Bangladesh brought in a multi-party presidential form of government and relaxed curbs on press and civil rights. In March 1982 Lieutenant General Hussain Muhammad Ershad staged a coup that removed the elected regime of President Abdus Sattar. Martial law was declared and many provisions of the 1972 Constitution were suspended, especially those relating to human rights. Political parties - including the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which were to be key in Ershad's eventual overthrow - were banned. The press was restricted, and arrests of dissidents were common. Trials were held in military courts, if they took place at all.

Following considerable pressure from both inside and outside the country to hold elections and to "democratize", Ershad authorized a resumption of political activity in January 1986. In May 1986 elections took place. The Awami League agreed to participate but the BNP refused to do so, maintaining that free and fair polling was not possible under the Ershad government. Amid widespread charges of vote-rigging, Ershad's Jatiya Party won a slim majority in the unicameral parliament, which was in fact an almost powerless body under the prevailing presidential system. The Awami League boycotted sessions of Parliament for a time while the members who attended passed an Act that legalized the steps taken during martial law. The Awami League also boycotted the presidential election in October 1986, which Ershad won easily. Martial law was lifted in November 1986 and Ershad became President under the Constitution as it then stood.

In November 1987 the Awami League and BNP joined together to launch a mass movement against Ershad which did not succeed in dislodging him but instead resulted in Parliament's dismissal. In March 1988 a new election was held, which both the Awami League and the BNP boycotted. The result was an almost complete Parliamentary victory for the Jatiya Party.

In almost three years it appeared that the Ershad regime was safe, despite vocal opposition within the country and continued criticism from without. But in October 1990 the Awami League and BNP were once again temporarily united and there were mass protests and anti-government demonstrations. On 4 December 1990 Ershad announced his resignation.

Parliamentary elections were held on 28 February 1991. The BNP won 140 of the 300 seats. The Awami League and its allies won 99; the Jatiya Party 35; the Jamaat Party 18; and the remaining seats were scattered among smaller parties and independents. The BNP was short of a majority, but the Jamaat Party agreed to work with it in subsequent indirect elections for 30 women's seats. These yielded 28 additional seats for the BNP, which gave the party a clear majority in Parliament, while the Jamaat took the other two women's seats.

One major difference between the parties was that the Awami League called for the reintroduction of the parliamentary system while the BNP favoured a strong presidency (sometimes known as "Ershad's system without Ershad"). However, following the 1991 elections, the BNP abandoned its support for the presidential system and began favouring a parliamentary system. Two Bills to effect the move to a parliamentary form of government were introduced in the legislature, one by the BNP and the other by the Awami League. In an effort to encourage parliamentary unity, the government appointed a Select Committee, drawn from both parties and including other figures, to reconcile the Bills. The Committee's constitution-amending legislation was passed by Parliament in August 1991 with the support of both the BNP and the Awami League and approved in a referendum the following month."

The significance of this history lies in the fact that according to the statement submitted by the appellant in support of the appeal dated 30 August 1993, while at high school, he was associated with the Youth Wing of the Awami League, whose then leader was Sheik Mujibar Rahman.

In 1982, in the same year that General Ershad came to power, the appellant resigned from the Awami Youth League due to a difference of opinion over the election of office holders in the League.

In 1984 he joined the Jatiya Party, the party which supported General Ershad. From this chronology two significant features emerge:

(a)The appellant's change of allegiance from the Awami League to the Jatiya Party was a change of some magnitude.

(b)The appellant left Bangladesh in March 1990 at a time when his own party (the Jatiya Party) was in power, and would remain in power for another ten months until the resignation of General Ershad in December 1990.

When asked whether he agreed that his change from the Awami League to the Jatiya Party was a substantial one, the appellant did not give a direct answer and had to be pressed on the point. He then said that General Ershad had not been involved in the coup and had obtained power because the President had handed it to him. The condition of the country had deteriorated, there was no rule of law and that is why power was handed to General Ershad. Asked whether he agreed that General Ershad had come to power by way of a bloodless coup, the appellant denied that this had occurred.

Asked to explain the difference between the political philosophy of the Awami League on the one hand, and the Jatiya Party on the other, the appellant could give only the most simple of answers. He said that he had been attracted to the Jatiya Party because General Ershad had said that everyone would get equal education. He added that Ershad was a new person in politics and was trying to show that his principles were better in relation to peace, progress, democracy, elections, freedom for everyone. The appellant was unable to give any more cogent answer.

The Authority was troubled by this response given the appellant's claim to have been the organizing secretary for the Mohammed-Pur Branch of the Jatiya Party in Dhaka, a position he held from 1985 until 1990. Given his claimed intensive participation in the Jatiya Party, the Authority would have expected him to have been more articulate in his responses to the two issues referred to earlier.

THE APPELLANT'S CASE

In support of his refugee application received by the New Zealand Immigration Service on 28 August 1991, the appellant submitted a three-page statement. That statement was supplemented by further detail provided at the Refugee Status Section interview on 3 April 1992. The appellant's evidence is, as mentioned, recorded in an interview report dated 15 April 1992 in respect of which the appellant was afforded an opportunity to make comment and submissions. For the appeal hearing the appellant submitted a further seven page statement.

We do not intend reciting at length the appellant's seven page statement. In essence, his case as set out in the statement is that approximately one year after joining the Jatiya Party he became the organizing secretary for the Mohammed-Pur Branch in Dhaka. His responsibility was to inform members of meetings, to ensure that members attended meetings and if there were to be political protests or rallies, it was his responsibility to ensure that party members attended. He was also responsible for organizing speakers and equipment. From time to time the appellant took part in demonstrations at which there were clashes between members of the appellant's party and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

On 10 October 1989 the appellant attended a meeting at the Jatiya Party office. Twenty to twenty-five BNP supporters entered the building and attacked the Jatiya Party members attending the meeting with hockey sticks and iron bars. The appellant claimed that he "was hit seriously" by BNP members and suffered "extensive bruising". When the police arrived the BNP supporters ran off. The appellant claimed that he "was seriously injured and the police took me to hospital. I spent three weeks in hospital."

After his release from hospital the appellant went to live with his mother in Dhaka but their house was sometimes attacked by BNP supporters. He became fearful for his life and after talking to his party leader he was advised to come to New Zealand. In March 1990 he decided to come to New Zealand and he arrived in this country on 8 March 1990.

In relation to the political changes which have taken place in Bangladesh since his departure, the appellant claimed in his statement that the BNP, as the party now in government, have control over the police and that he has been told by friends that the police are looking for him. Police have visited his mother's house and told her that there is a warrant for his arrest. No details have been given as to the nature of the charge in respect of which the warrant has been issued. The appellant has been told that a close friend of his who belonged to the same branch of the Jatiya Party has been jailed for seven years for possession of illegal arms. The appellant believes that the charge was fabricated. He concludes his statement in the following terms:

"I believe that because it was well-known that I was the organizing secretary in the Mohammed-Pur Branch of the Jatiya Party that the BNP party will be fearful that I will return to Bangladesh and take up again a position as organizing secretary and be involved in the Jatiya Party. They will want to stop me taking up an influential role in organizing the Jatiya Party. I believe that I would be arrested on my return to Bangladesh and be prosecuted because of my political beliefs."

At the hearing of the appeal the appellant's credibility was explored in a number of respects. In particular he was questioned about his educational qualifications and his employment history. These issues arose out of two documents submitted by him in support of a work permit application:

(a)A certificate from Ramna Technical Training Institute certifying that from 1985 to 1986 the appellant completed what was described as a "cooking course". The certificate is dated 7 April 1990, which is after the appellant arrived in New Zealand.

(b)A reference from Hotel Nidmahal, Dhaka dated 3 January 1990 certifying that the appellant worked for the hotel as "head chef" from 1 January 1986 to 26 December 1989.

The reference from the Hotel Nidmahal is inconsistent with the following employment history recorded at the Refugee Status Section interview (page 143 of the file):

"He attended marches, meetings and would go with other workers. He finished his secondary education and went to college. He attended City College in 1976-77 at Dhanmondi in Dacca city. He attended there for two years. He did his higher secondary there. He went on to Jagonatha College in Dhaka in 1978-79. He could not complete his BA because he started a business and he could not study. He worked as a sales person. He used to take buyers to sellers. That was in 1979-81. He then got a few jobs - as shop assistant in Dhaka. He did a chef's course in 1985 at Ramna College in Dhaka in 1985-86 at Nidmahal Hotel, Dhaka, 1986-87. Then he left and had no job for one year. In 1989 he worked for the Mogal Restaurant in Dhaka as a chef. He worked there four months. Then he had no job until he came to New Zealand. He just looked for a job before coming to New Zealand without success."

When the Authority questioned the appellant in relation to his employment history, his account was as follows:

(a)After completing the chef's course he worked for Hotel Nidmahal as second chef.

(b)He worked there for two years only, commencing in January 1986 and leaving in late 1987.

(c)After some time he obtained a position as second chef at the Hotel Mogal Shahi in Dhaka where he worked for four months. He commenced employment with this establishment in April 1989.

(d)Between late 1987 and April 1989 the appellant was self-employed as an indenter, bringing buyers and sellers together. He traded principally in sugar, cloth and jute. The appellant was in partnership with one other person. They employed two office staff. The business ceased operating in late 1978 (sic).

It was pointed out to the appellant that this chronology could not be correct as the cessation of his partnership as indenter predated by some years his attendance at the cooking course at Ramna Technical Training Institute.

The appellant then said that he went into business as an indenter while attending Jagonatha College. He enroled there in January 1988 and continued his studies until mid-1989. From mid-1989 he became involved in the indenting business and for this reason did not complete his studies. The appellant then said that he was "making a mess" of his evidence.

The Authority asked the appellant whether it was true that he had worked for the Hotel Nidmahal. The appellant was adamant that he had worked there and that he had commenced in January 1986 and left in December 1987. Thereafter, in April 1989 he had worked for four months at the Mogal Shahi Restaurant. Asked what he had done between December 1987 and April 1989 the appellant said that he had worked as a shop assistant in the Tip Top Fashion Shop in Dhaka. He worked there for three months only from December 1988 to February 1989. He conceded that this meant that from December 1987 to December 1988 he had been unemployed as he had been unable to find work. Yet in answer to the next series of questions the appellant claimed that he attended the Jagonatha College from January 1988 to the middle of 1989. Asked about his claim to have been employed for three months of this period at the Tip Top Fashion Shop, the appellant said that he had worked there while attending college. As shops do not close until 8.00 pm or 9.00 pm in the evening, he used to work in the shop in the afternoons after attending college.

At this stage the morning adjournment was taken. After the adjournment the appellant was asked whether the paragraph from the Refugee Status Section report cited earlier was a correct summary of his employment history. He stated that it was. The appellant was then asked why the Hotel Nidmahal reference certified that he had worked at the hotel for the period 1 January 1986 to 26 December 1989 when the appellant conceded that he had only worked at the hotel in 1986 and 1987.

In answer the appellant stated that he had in fact worked there for the period stated in the reference. The appellant was then confronted with his acknowledgement that his account to the Refugee Status Section interview was correct, namely that he had only worked at the hotel in 1986 and 1987. The appellant then conceded that the period of employment referred to in the reference was incorrect. The appellant also conceded that the reference was incorrect in stating that he had worked as "head chef" but claimed that as second chef he would perform head chef duties when the head chef was busy or absent.

In his closing submissions counsel for the appellant submitted that the appellant was a person who could be easily confused by dates, as demonstrated by the fact that when confronted with the date 09/06/93 in the facsimile transmission details on the Discharge Certificate he had interpreted this as 9 June 1993, notwithstanding that he had had possession of the document for but a few days only. This made it clear that the correct interpretation of the notation was that the date of transmission was 6 September 1993.

The Authority recognizes that conventions for writing dates differ and that the British form records the day before the month whereas the distinctive American form reverses the order with the result that confusion may occur. That does not, however, explain the appellant's inconsistent evidence concerning important events and his submission of a work reference which is false and misleading it its terms.

The reference is not the only suspect document tendered by the appellant to the New Zealand Immigration Service. At page 42 of the file there is a purported affidavit by the appellant attesting to the circumstances of his separation and divorce. In several places the document asserts that it was sworn at Dhaka in Bangladesh. This can be seen from the heading of the document "Before the Notary Public at Dhaka, Bangladesh". It is also seen from the address of the appellant as deponent which is given as a specific address in Mohammed-pur in Dhaka. Then, immediately above the signature, which the appellant acknowledged at the hearing to be his, there is the notation:

"The statements made above are true to the best of my knowledge and belief and in truth whereof I put my signature on this affidavit this the 19th day of April, 1990, at Dhaka, Bangladesh."

Beneath the appellant's signature the Notary Public attesting the affidavit asserts:

"The Deponent is known to me, identified by me and has signed in my presence."

The appellant conceded that he signed the document in New Zealand and then sent it back to Bangladesh for the Notary Public to add his signature to the document there.

The appellant did not impress the Authority as a person who attached importance to the truth.

The Authority's doubts as to the appellant's credibility increased when he related the circumstances of the attack in October 1989 and his hospitalization. The appellant told the Authority that in the attack on 10 October 1989 he had been beaten all over the body with hockey sticks and iron bars. He had received a blood nose and extensive bruising. He described inflammation to both hands, arms, shoulders and all over the body, including his back, chest, thighs and legs. In describing his injuries he specifically stated that he had received no injuries on either thigh as a result of the attack apart from the bruising and inflammation referred to. At the most, there were scratches to his thighs. He described the main areas of injury as being his face, legs, back and chest.

It was put to the appellant that the medical certificate dated 30 October 1989 mentions only that:

"He/she had been suffering from lacerated injury over left thigh."

To this the appellant replied that he had indeed been severely beaten on his left thigh and could not move either the thigh or his leg. He could not explain why his account and the medical certificate provide such different accounts of his injuries. The appellant was asked why it had taken more than three years from his departure from Bangladesh to produce the certificate. He replied that prior to the Refugee Status Section interview he did not have the address of the friend who ultimately sent the document to him.

The Authority's assessment of the appellant's credibility on the issue of the attack of 10 October 1989, his injuries and hospitalization was not a favourable one. We do not accept that he has given a truthful account.

The appellant was also questioned as to why he left Bangladesh at a time when his own political party was in power. The appellant agreed that following the 10 October 1989 attack he had made a complaint to the police and that the police had in fact arrested some six or seven people who had been involved in the attack. It was put to the appellant that this was hardly consistent with his claim that at the time he left Bangladesh he could not avail himself of the protection of the Government of Bangladesh. In response the appellant said that he had been told by the police that they were able to protect him during the day but that at night it was possible that the appellant's attackers could return at night and shoot him. It emerged that BNP supporters had spoken to the appellant following his release from hospital and told him that if he went to any further Jatiya Party meetings or resumed his involvement in politics, they would kill him. This notwithstanding, he resumed his political activities and remained organizing secretary of his local branch until he came to New Zealand. The Authority was of the view that if the appellant's account was true (which the Authority did not accept) the appellant's attackers had ample opportunity from October 1989 to March 1990 to carry out their threats, but did not do so, notwithstanding the appellant's resumption of his political activities. If there were any such threats they were not serious.

THE ISSUES

The Inclusion Clause in Article 1A(2) of the Refugee Convention relevantly provides that a refugee is a person who has a:

"... well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country ...."

In the present context we formulate the issues before us as follows:

1. Is there a genuine fear?

2. Is the harm feared of sufficient gravity to constitute persecution?

3. Is there a real chance that persecution will occur?

4. Will the state fail in its duty to protect the appellant from serious harm?

5. Is the harm feared related to any one of the five grounds recognized in the Convention, or is it related to other factors?

In this regard we refer to our decision in Refugee Appeal No. 11/91 Re S (5 September 1991) in which these issues are addressed in greater detail.

In order to address these five issues the Authority must necessarily make findings of fact and findings of credibility.

ASSESSMENT OF CREDIBILITY

As to credibility, our conclusion is that the appellant is not a truthful witness and that we do not accept his evidence in any respect. In arriving at this conclusion we have made due allowance for the appellant's understandable confusion as to dates, a matter to which we have already referred. We have also excluded from consideration the circumstances of the appellant's marriage interview and the suggestion that the marriage in New Zealand was a marriage of convenience. We are not in a position to make any assessment of these aspects of the facts.

In making our credibility findings, we have taken into account:

(a)The appellant's demeanour. The Authority concluded that the appellant is insincere, manipulative and untroubled by matters involving conscience or truth.

(b)In describing his political beliefs and his motivation for abandoning the Awami Party in favour of the Jatiya Party the appellant did not come across as either frank or sincere. He was quite unable to articulate the political philosophy which attracted him to the Jatiya Party.

(c)Even as to the basic account of his case the appellant was unable in his oral evidence to give a coherent account. Difficulty in remembering dates is understandable. Inability to remember the order in which major life events occurred is not.

(d)He did not give credible evidence concerning the injuries allegedly sustained in the attack of 10 October 1989. The situation was compounded when his account did not square with the medical certificate.

(e)In relation to the claimed warrant for arrest, no details whatever have emerged of the charge or charges on which it is allegedly based. Nor has any credible evidence been adduced to support the claim that the warrant exists. We were asked to rely principally upon the appellant's evidence to find that the police were looking for him and had a warrant in their possession. As we do not find him a credible witness we attach no weight to his claims. The handwritten message on the discharge certificate sent to New Zealand by facsimile on "09/06/93" amounts to no more than a claim that "a copy of your warrant" will be sent at some indeterminate time. As at the date of this decision the document had not been submitted to the Authority. Had any such document been submitted it would have been subjected to close scrutiny given our findings as to the appellant's credibility and our further findings that both the work reference and the purported affidavit sworn by the appellant contain false statements.

(f)The appellant's claim that he was forced to flee Bangladesh at a time when his own party was in power is, as mentioned, wholly unconvincing. The Authority is of the view that the appellant's motivation for leaving Bangladesh in March 1990 was unrelated to his political activities, if indeed he ever was involved in such activities. The undated letters from the two political parties cannot by themselves displace our credibility findings. Given the findings we have made in relation to the veracity of the appellant's work reference and his affidavit we are not prepared to attach weight to purported references from political parties which surfaced some two years after the refugee application was originally filed.

In this regard the appellant's case is not assisted by the following passage taken from the US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1992 (February 1993) 1119, 1121:

"Human rights monitors allege, with some justification, that the SPA [Special Powers Act 1974] is being used to settle political scores against members of the opposition, including members of Ershad's Jatiyo Party."

This is not a statement that all members of the Jatiya Party are affected in this way. The statement cannot be turned into a spurious justification for a case which is ultimately based on the issue whether the Authority accepts the appellant as a credible witness. We have found him to be a person without credibility and there is nothing to suggest that the BNP would generate a warrant for the appellant's arrest when he has been an organizing secretary of a small group comprising some 200 people. The appellant claims that he first heard of the warrant in a letter from his mother in September 1991. There is nothing to explain why the BNP should take this extraordinary step in relation to a person who had been absent from Bangladesh (at that time) for some one and a half years.

In summary, our conclusion is that the appellant is not a credible witness and we do not accept his account in any respect. Each of the five issues set out above is answered in the negative.

For these reasons we find that the appellant is not a refugee within the meaning of Article 1A(2) of the Refugee Convention. Refugee status is declined. The appeal is dismissed.

[R.P.G. Haines]

Member

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