SR (Iraqi Arab Christian: relocation to KRG) Iraq CG  UKAIT 00038
Date of hearing: 6 November 2008
Date Determination notified: 31 July 2009
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
An Iraqi Arab Christian at risk in his home area and throughout central and southern Iraq is likely to be able to obtain the documentation needed by a person wishing to relocate within Iraq, and is likely to be able to relocate to the KRG with the assistance of a sponsor, in particular, on the basis of the latest statistics available, in Erbil or Dohuk.
"While the Immigration Judge has not said so in terms, it may be inferred from the determination as a whole that he believes the appellant to have a well-founded fear in his home area of Mosul. He deals with internal flight at paragraphs 78 to 81 of the determination, but only gives reasons why relocation to another part of Iraq would be safe for the appellant. He gives no reasons why it would be reasonable to expect him to relocate. The reasons why the judge thinks that the appellant would be safe elsewhere revolve around the finding that the militia are not looking for him in Mosul, which appears to contradict the (implicit) finding that the appellant has a well-founded fear in Mosul.
Credibility as such has not been challenged in the 'reasons for refusal' letter, which takes the view that the appellant's account of what happened to him in Mosul amounts to discrimination, rather than persecution. A clear finding needs to be made at the 'second stage' of the reconsideration on whether the appellant has a well-founded fear of persecution in Mosul and, if so, whether relocation to either the Kurdish Regional Government or central and southern Iraq is feasible, safe and reasonable for this appellant, who is a Christian."
"(3) The Tribunal may exclude any or all members of the public from any hearing or any part of a hearing if it is necessary –
(a) in the interests of public order or national security; or
(b) to protect the private life of a party or the interests of a minor.
(4) The Tribunal may also, in exceptional circumstances, exclude any or all members of the public from any hearing or part of a hearing to ensure that publicity does not prejudice the interests of justice, but only if and to the extent if that it is strictly necessary to do so."
Discussion and Conclusions
Exposition and Evaluation of Expert Evidence
"In the three Northern Governorates of Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Dohuk the rights of Christians are generally respected and a significant number of them have sought refuge in the region, in particular in the Governorate of Dohuk(from where many originate) and the Christian town of Ainkawa, near the city of Erbil".
Dr Hunter emphasises the phrase "from where many originate". She states that the right of settlement for Christians is not automatic but is determined by the Kurdish authorities on the basis of ethnicity and that Arab Christians are discouraged from settling in the KRG because of their ethnicity and suspicions about their possible affiliation with other Arabs, notably Sunnis. She goes on to state that the appellant's linguistic, ethnic and kin profile is totally alien to the Kurds and that he has no family or religious ties to anchor any claims to residency, as well as being linguistically and ethnically alien to the Kurds. She says there is no guarantee that officials would accept him and allow him to stay, as acknowledged by the UNHCR, and that he would require a sponsor. She gives an example of an Iraqi academic colleague of hers who had to have a sponsor to enable him to talk with colleagues at the University of Erbil.
Existing Tribunal Authority
"69. KDG links and the Northern Governorates. Persons with links to the KDG may be able to mitigate their position by internal relocation, but entry to the Northern Governorates is restricted. The Governorates of Kirkuk, Sulaimaniyah and Dohuk are now only accepting those who have a proven link to their territories, or for whom (and in this respect, specific evidence is required) someone in the territory is prepared to sponsor them. In general, those who are admitted to the KDG will be of Kurdish origin and will be Kurdish speakers, particularly as the evidence shows that the Northern Governorates have tightened entry controls to these areas."
"38. In the UNHCR Guidelines of October 2005 relating to the eligibility of Iraqi asylum seekers it is suggested that relocation in the three Northern Governorates will depend on a variety of factors, the main one being whether the claimant would be allowed to enter and legally reside in the area of relocation and whether he/she has family, community and/or political links that would allow for his/her protection, economic survival and integration. Later in the same guidelines (at p.51, paragraph 8) it is said that the Kurdish authorities aim to keep the area "Kurdish" and are in principle reluctant to accept any increase of non-Kurdish populations in their areas of influence. Hence the KRG authorities implement strict controls on the presence of non-Kurdish people in their areas. Whereas certain factors such as former Ba'ath Party membership or a criminal record would clearly entail denial of admission, otherwise it is difficult to establish clear criteria to predict who will be admitted or rejected. At times decisions seem to be taken in a discretionary manner. There are checkpoints at the unofficial borders between Central Iraq and the KRG-administered area, and the area is regularly patrolled and heavily mined. Hence entry via the checkpoints is, practically, the only option available. At p.53-54, paragraph 21, somewhat contrasting with what was said at p.51 paragraph 8, it is said that the Kurdish parties will reject anybody who does not originate from the respective Governorate and does not have a Kurdish sponsor to guarantee his/her entry and stay (Governorates of Erbil and Dohuk), or may be considered to pose a security risk or is found to have links with the former government. It seems that there is a difference between being admitted to the KRG area and obtaining a residence permit, which has to be applied for by anyone not from the Governorate in question."
- the personal identification number which is issued by the General Directorate of Citizenship in accordance with Iraqi Civil Law number 65(1972);
- the Iraqi National Certificate which shows that the holder is Iraqi;
- a letter of confirmation from the place of work in the intended relocation town and/or the approval of the Mukhtar of that town;
- a declaration from the security services that the person is not involved in criminal activities.
Without this documentation supporting official relocation, individuals would be unable to access food which is rationed and would be denied access to work. A person wishing to relocate away from their home town does not have to visit their home town in order to obtain the requisite documentation for a relocation application. It is said that obtaining an Iraqi Civil Status Identity Card is a simple process. FCO advice is that it generally takes approximately one day to obtain the necessary documentation on return to Iraq. Although in 2005 UNHCR stated that returnees often faced difficulties in obtaining documentation, in 2006 the IOM said that they were unaware of any problems experienced by returnees in obtaining the necessary documentation on return, and had not been called on to help in that regard. Dr Hunter says in her supplementary report that Iraqi ID cards are not recognised as valid by the KRG who issue their own documents, but the Finnish Fact Finding Mission at page 25 of its report states that according to the IOM after arrival a person needs to visit the police in a few weeks' time in order to receive a residency card, and they need to have an Iraqi ID card, a birth certificate and a PDS card in order to apply for the residency card. We prefer the evidence of the Fact Finding Mission on this point, as being recently obtained, and sourced. Taking all this together, we conclude that difficulties in obtaining documents would not be such as, either separately or cumulatively with the other matters considered, to make relocation to the KRG unreasonable.
The appeal is dismissed.