New Judgment: IA v The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Scotland)  UKSC 6
29 Wednesday Jan 2014
On appeal from:  CSIH 28
The appellant is an Iranian national, previously granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in 1998 in Iraq as he feared persecution as a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran. He left Iraq for Turkey in 2002 as a refugee and was again recognised as a refugee by the UNHCR. No action was taken to remove him to a safe country and he travelled to the UK in 2005 and applied for asylum.
The Secretary of State refused his application as his account was found not to be credible. The appellant appealed to an Immigration Judge who concluded that although the UNHCR’s grant of refugee status was significant, it could be discounted if grounds were found to do so. She found there were grounds to do so as he had not established that he was involved with the KDPI. The case was dismissed and was also dismissed before the Court of Session.
The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal against him, despite the further evidence submitted by the UNHCR as to the reasons for their grant of refugee status. They held the national decision-maker must pay close attention to a UNHCR grant of refugee status and pause considerably before arriving at a different conclusion, but the immigration judge was entitled to reject his case having regard to the information which had been available. The UNHCR decisions are not binding, and states have an autonomous responsibility to determine an applicant’s asylum status. The UNHCR decision can be disregarded where reliable information was available which called into question the credibility of the applicant’s account. Where possible, that information should be from a source other than the applicant. The case would not be remitted to the immigration judge, as it was a better course for the applicant to submit a new claim under Immigration Rules, r 353. It would be likely a new claim with the fresh evidence from the UNHCR would be accepted by the Secretary of State. Therefore, the claim was dismissed.