The Court of Appeal have allowed the Secretary of State for the Home Department’s (SSHD) appeal in the case of SSHD v JS (Uganda), finding that the UK did not owe obligations to our client (JS) under the Refugee Convention, as he had been recognised as a ‘refugee’ under the Family Reunion policy.
Whilst this result is disappointing, our client intends to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The issues raised in this appeal are relevant in cases concerning the UK’s obligations to individuals who have been recognised as refugees on the basis of their family relationship with a refugee living in the United Kingdom.
Our client (JS) was admitted to the UK in 2006 to join his mother, who had been recognised as a refugee from Uganda. Under the Family Reunion Policy, JS was also admitted as a refugee.
Almost a decade later, following a five year conviction (of which two and a half years were in custody), the SSHD initiated deportation proceedings against our client.
JS appealed the SSHD’s decision to the First tier Tribunal (FtT) and his appeal was heard in early 2017.
The FtT found that JS ‘was not recognised as a refugee on the basis of any activity or profile of his own’ and ‘was recognised as a refugee because of his mother’s history, her status as a refugee and his relationship to her’. The conditions for cessation of status in paragraph 339A(v) were established, because ‘the approach to former rebels has softened since [JS] was ‘granted asylum’. The FtT dismissed the appeal on all grounds and JS appealed the matter to the Upper Tribunal (UT).
In considering the issues surrounding JS’s status, the UT concluded that where a person has been recognised as a refugee under the family reunion policy, it is the circumstances that led to that recognition, namely the relationship between the refugee and the individual, that are to be addressed when deciding whether or not to cease a Refugee Status under Article 1C.
Therefore JS was found to be a refugee under the Refugee Convention, and the attempt by the SSHD to utilise a change of circumstances in Uganda to justify the cessation of his status in accordance with Article 1C(5) could not succeed because he did not gain his status on that basis.
The UT thus found that JS was entitled to protection under Article 32 of the Convention and his appeal was allowed on protection grounds.
The SSHD was granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal submitting, in the alternative, that JS had never been granted refugee status under the Refugee Convention and was not entitled to the protections thereunder.
Court of Appeal (2-3 July 2019)
The SSHD pursued two grounds at the main appeal.
Ground two was based on the alternative factual scenario that JS was granted ‘refugee’ status but he was not a refugee under the Refugee Convention and therefore the UK did not owe obligations to JS under the Refugee Convention.
This matter raised issues of construction as to the definition of ‘refugee’ under Article 1A(2) and the true construction of the ‘cessation’ provision under Article 1C(5) of the Refugee Convention.
The Court found that the plain ordinary meaning of the term ‘refugee’ in Article 1A of the Refugee Convention, is a person who themselves have a ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted’. Therefore, JS was not considered a Refugee Convention refugee.
In terms of the true construction of Article 1C(5), the Court held that ‘ceased circumstances’ would require consideration of relationship and risk in these circumstances. The Court agreed with the findings of the FtT, that the circumstances in connection with which JS had been recognised as a refugee had ceased to exist since his mother no longer faced a well-founded fear of persecution in Uganda. Therefore, even if JS was regarded as a Refugee Convention refugee, the Court found that the SSHD was entitled to decide that, by operation of Article 1C(5), JS’s status as a Refugee Convention refugee could and should be treated as ‘ceased’.
The Court of Appeal allowed the SSHD’s appeal on this ground.
The issues raised in this appeal are relevant in cases concerning the UK’s obligations to individuals who have been who have been recognised as refugees on the basis of their family relationship with a refugee living in the United Kingdom
JS has since sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
JS was represented by Immigration and Public Law solicitor Sangeetha Vairavamoorthy. Counsel instructed in the matter are Raza Husain QC and Eleanor Mitchell of Matrix Chambers, and also Ben Bundock of 1 Pump Court.