19 February 2009
by Kousai ALMASRI
against the United Kingdom
lodged on 7 December 2007
STATEMENT OF FACTS
The applicant, Mr Kousai Almasri, is a Syrian national who was born in 1986. He is represented before the Court by Mr. O. Nwokeji, of OJN Solicitors, a firm based in London.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
He arrived in the United Kingdom from Lebanon with his mother and two siblings on 21 September 1998. His mother claimed asylum upon arrival, with the applicant and his siblings as her dependants. Her asylum claim was refused on 12 February 2002, as she was considered not to be credible. Her appeal was heard by an Adjudicator on 11 July 2003, but dismissed in a determination promulgated on 8 August 2003.
The applicant’s family submitted an application for indefinite leave to remain, which was rejected on 15 July 2004. However, a subsequent application for leave to remain under the Home Office’s seven-year child concession policy was submitted on 21 September 2005.
In the meantime, the applicant had been convicted of the following offences. On 7 July 2003, he was convicted of taking a vehicle without consent, and driving without insurance, for which he was made subject to a 12-month supervision order. On 19 February 2004, he was convicted of breach of his supervision order, for which the continuation of the current supervision order was ordered. On 29 July 2004, he was convicted of threatening behaviour and assault, for which he was sentenced to 12 months’ detention in a young offenders’ institute and a training order.
On the basis of this last conviction, the Home Office issued the applicant with a notice of decision to make a deportation order against him, on 22 June 2006. On 27 September 2006, the pending application for indefinite leave to remain in respect of the applicant’s family, including the applicant, was granted. However, the applicant was again served with a decision to make a deportation order on 19 November 2006. Reasons for the decision were set out in a letter dated 8 December 2006, in which it was stated that the applicant had not been resident in the United Kingdom for a significant period of time, having spent his youth and formative years in Syria. It was therefore thought that he would be able to readjust to life in Syria. In the light of the seriousness of his criminal offence, his removal from the United Kingdom was thought to be necessary for the prevention of disorder and crime and the protection of health and morals.
The applicant’s appeal against the decision to deport him was heard by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal on 13 April 2007, but dismissed in a decision promulgated on 30 April 2007. The Tribunal rejected the applicant’s claim that he would be at risk of ill-treatment if returned to Syria, since it was based on his mother’s account of events in Lebanon, which had been found to be incredible during her asylum proceedings. The panel also found, on the Article 8 point, that the compassionate circumstances concerning the applicant’s family situation, and the fact that he knew nobody in Syria and had never lived there, did not outweigh the public interest in deportation. The applicant was young and healthy, spoke Arabic and had spent the first 11 years of his life in the Middle East, and had acquired skills in computing and mechanics in the United Kingdom that he could put to use in Syria.
The applicant’s application for reconsideration of the Tribunal decision was refused by a Senior Immigration Judge on 13 June 2007, on the basis that there was no realistic prospect that a Tribunal would decide the appeal differently upon reconsideration. A subsequent application for reconsideration was refused for the same reason by the High Court on 26 August 2007.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
Section 5(3)(a) of the Immigration Act (as amended by the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999) provides that a person who is not a British citizen shall be liable to deportation from the United Kingdom if the Secretary of State deems his deportation to be conducive to the public good.
Sections 82(1) and 84 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 provide for a right of appeal against this decision inter alia on the grounds that the decision is incompatible with the Convention.
Section 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 provides that, in determining any question that arises in connection with a Convention right, courts and tribunals must take into account any case-law from this Court so far as, in the opinion of the court or tribunal, it is relevant to the proceedings in which that question has arisen.
The applicant complains under Article 8 of the Convention about his deportation from the United Kingdom to Syria. He also complains that there has been a violation of his rights under Article 6, in that the decision to deport him was taken while he still had a pending application for indefinite leave to remain. He complains under Article 14, in conjunction with Articles 6 and 8, that he has been discriminated against on the grounds of his religion.
QUESTION TO THE PARTIES
Has there been a violation of the applicant’s rights under Article 8 of the Convention?
Reference is made in this connection to the judgment of the Grand Chamber in Maslov v. Austria [GC], no. 1638/03, 23 June 2008.