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Judgment Reported in Duncan Lewis Iran Social Media Immigration Human Rights Case (20 May 2015)

Date: 20/05/2015
Duncan Lewis, Immigration Solicitors, Judgment Reported in Duncan Lewis Iran Social Media Immigration Human Rights Case

Judgment has been reported in the case of AB and Others Iran [2015] UKUT 0257 (IAC) where Duncan Lewis represented the claimant who is an Iranian citizen seeking asylum in the UK due to risks to his person if he was removed back to Iran.

The case of AB and Others (internet activity - state of evidence) Iran [2015] UKUT 0257 (IAC) was today reported with the headnote:

The material put before the tribunal did not disclose a sufficient evidential basis for giving country or other guidance upon what, reliably, can be expected in terms of the reception in Iran for those returning otherwise than with a “regular” passport in relation to whom interest may be excited from the authorities into internet activity as might be revealed by an examination of blogging activity or a Facebook account. However, this determination is reported so that the evidence considered by the Upper Tribunal is available in the public domain.

AB was represented by Phil Haywood of Doughty Street and instructed by Vinia Templeton, Consultant at Duncan Lewis Cardiff office.

This was a linked case of three Appellants who claim they are refugees because of their “blogging” activity on the internet. The Tribunal defines blogging to mean “the practice of publishing on the internet written articles, reports, film clips, pictures, or links to the same, whether produced by the person responsible for the blog or another”.

This case was heard on 28 -31 January 2014 as a Country Guidance case. After over a year of deliberation, the Upper Tribunal belatedly concluded that there is not sufficient evidential basis for giving country or other guidance as it had set out to do. Nonetheless, the case is reported and read alongside the Home Office’s Guidance on Iran Journalists and Bloggers (October 2014), the determination does quite amply widen the scope for Iran claims to succeed where claimants have engaged in social media activity.

Our client AB is a prolific blogger who engages in re-posting news and satire that is highly critical of the Iran regime. In addition, he hosts a Facebook page of similar content and produces music hip hop music, known to be severely frowned upon by the ruling Mullahs. His account of events in Iran had been found not credible by the First Tier and Upper Tribunal. He was granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal and his case was later remitted to the Upper Tribunal to be jointly heard as the Iran Country Guidance on Social Media Activity (or not, as it turns out). The issues in his case were to be confined only to his sur place activities and the Home Office’s main challenge in his case was that his social media activities have been opportunistic and therefore do not place him at any risks upon return to Iran.

The grant of AB’s case is therefore a resounding success given the following findings of the Upper Tribunal:

464. We do not find it at all relevant if a person had used the internet in an opportunistic way. We are aware of examples in some countries where there is clear evidence that the authorities are scornful of people who try to create a claim by being rude overseas. There is no evidence remotely similar to that in this case. The touchiness of the Iranian authorities does not seem to be in the least concerned with the motives of the person making a claim but if it is interested it makes the situation worse, not better because seeking asylum is being rude about the government of Iran and whilst that may not of itself be sufficient to lead to persecution it is a point in that direction.

472. …The more active a person had been on the internet the greater the risk. It is not relevant if a person had used the internet in an opportunistic way. The authorities are not concerned with a person’s motivation…

The Judgment in AB and Others widens the scope for Iran Social Media cases to succeed, yet each case will continue be considered on its own merits.

For more information contact Duncan Lewis Solicitors:

- Toufique Hossain at toufiqueh@duncanlewis.com.
- Vinita Templeton at vinitat@duncanlewis.com.
- Vanessa Delgado at vanessad@duncanlewis.com.

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