(Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Appeal Number: AA/02788/2013
THE IMMIGRATION ACTS
Heard at North Shields
on 9th August 2013
On 12th August 2013
UPPER TRIBUNAL JUDGE HANSON
(Anonymity order in force)
For the Appellant: Ms Harrison of Halliday Reeves Law Firm.
For the Respondent: Mrs Rackstraw - Senior Home Office Presenting Officer.
DETERMINATION AND REASONS
1. This is an appeal against a determination of First-tier Tribunal Judge Thorne, promulgated on 28th May 2013, in which he dismissed the appellant’s claim on asylum and human rights grounds against the direction of his removal to Afghanistan that accompanied the rejection of his claim for asylum or any other form of international protection.
2. Judge Thorne considered two key elements of the appellants claim; the first being whether he is Sikh and the second whether he is a citizen of Afghanistan. The appellant, who was born on the 1 January 1985, claimed to be both as a result of which he faces a real risk of persecution as a result of his religion if returned to Afghanistan. The Secretary of State does not accept that the appellant is an Afghan national or a Sikh.
3. The Grounds seeking permission to appeal challenge the rejection of the appellant’s religious identity and, in relation to the finding he is not an Afghan national, acknowledge that this is a finding based on numerous aspects of the evidence. The decision is challenged as there are several relatives in the UK of the appellant and his wife. It is said in paragraph 8 of the grounds that it was wrong for the Judge to dismiss the evidence of the named witness so readily as the witness is related to the appellant and/or his wife and clearly has a place of birth in Kabul.
4. The nationality element was an appropriate starting point for the hearing, for if the finding the appellant is not a citizen of Afghanistan is a sustainable finding whether he is of the Sikh religion or not will not be a material issue.
5. As acknowledged by Ms Harrison, the Judge when considering the issue of nationality took into account a number of aspects of the evidence including (i) the ID cards and the information contained therein, (ii) the fact they speak Punjabi and (iii) the appellant’s apparent lack of knowledge of Afghanistan.
6. I accept there is other evidence but the grounds are, in effect, a challenge to the weight given to the evidence that was considered by the Judge when weight is an issue for the Judge. The Judge particularly notes in paragraph 65 of the determination that the appellant admitted to entering the United Kingdom using forged identity documents obtained by his father who it appears was able to obtain such documents easily for a number of people. It is also noted that a limited number of documents were provided  one of which described the wife's mother tongue as Urdu. No explanation was provided for why this language was described when he claimed that their language was Punjabi and why it described the appellant as a ‘vendor’ when he was unemployed. The appellant did not know where his father got the documents from or how he obtained them. It was unclear why his father allegedly told him to bring them to the UK with him. The Judge’s core finding in relation to the weight attached to the documents is as follows:
“…. bearing in mind the fact as outlined above and the inconsistencies in these documents I do not consider that they provide independent support for the appellant's claims of nationality.”
7. In paragraph 67 the Judge also noted that he had not been referred to reliable objective evidence indicating Punjabi is spoken widely in Afghanistan or that it is considered to be spoken sufficiently to be recorded in the general country information as a language spoken in that country. The claim by the appellant that the neighbour threatened him in Punjabi was found not to be credible as it was stated this neighbour was a fervent Afghan Muslim who hated Sikhs. It was found unlikely that this person would have taken time to study such a language.
8. In paragraph 66 the Judge also notes, having analysed the answers given at interview about the appellant's understanding of Afghanistan, that his level of knowledge is not consistent with his claim to be a national of that country, even taking into account his intelligence and level of education.
9. Having considered the determination as a whole and having reviewed the evidence I find the conclusions reached in relation to the nationality issue, namely that the appellant has not discharged the burden of proof upon him to the required standard to prove he is an Afghan national, is a decision in accordance with the evidence and one properly available to the Judge. No legal error is proved in relation to this finding.
10. In light of the above I have not gone to consider issues relating to the appellant's religion for if he is not an Afghan national his claim to be at risk of persecution in Afghanistan must fail. There is no material error in the determination.
11. There is no material error of law in the First-tier Tribunal Judge’s decision. The determination shall stand.
12. The First-tier Tribunal made an order pursuant to rule 45(4)(i) of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Procedure) Rules 2005.
I continue that order (pursuant to rule 14 of the Tribunal Procedure (Upper Tribunal) Rules 2008).
Upper Tribunal Judge Hanson
Dated the 9th August 2013