(Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Appeal Number: PA/00473/2019
THE IMMIGRATION ACTS
Heard at Field House
Decision & Reasons Promulgated
On 6 June 2019
On 27 June 2019
DEPUTY UPPER TRIBUNAL JUDGE J F W PHILLIPS
Ms Aziz [S]
(ANONYMITY DIRECTION NOT MADE)
For the Appellant: Mr K Gayle, Elder Rahimi
For the Respondent: Mr C Avery, Home Office Presenting Officer
DECISION AND REASONS
1. This is an appeal against the decision of First-tier Tribunal Judge Parkes in which he dismissed the appeal of the Appellant, a citizen of Iraq, against the Secretary of State's decision to refuse asylum.
2. The application under appeal was refused on 6 January 2019. The Appellant exercised her right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. The appeal came before Judge Parkes on 22 March 2019 and was dismissed. The Appellant applied for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. The application was granted by First-tier Tribunal Judge Keane on 8 May 2019 in the following terms
"The judge arguably accorded weight to irrelevant considerations in deciding that the appellant had not given a credible account of her experiences before leaving her country."
3. The history of this appeal is detailed above. The Appellant is a citizen of Iraq from the Kurdish autonomous region (IKR) born on 8 May 1988. She arrived in the United Kingdom on 16 April 2016 and she claimed asylum on arrival. The basis of her claim was that she feared being harmed by her uncle and cousin as the result of her relationship with a colleague at work and her refusal to cooperate with an arrangement to marry her cousin and that the state could not offer her effective protection.
4. The Respondent refused the application not accepting that the Appellant had given a true account or was in fear of her uncle and cousin as claimed. In dismissing her appeal, the Judge found that the Appellant's account was not credible and that she was not at risk of honour based violence and not in need of international protection on any basis.
5. The First-tier Tribunal decision concludes by saying that 'As explained above Article 8 does not arise in this appeal'. There being no explanation 'above' Mr Gayle confirmed that the Appellant has been granted discretionary leave to remain as she has a British child and is married to a British citizen and this is the reason why Article 8 is not in issue.
6. For the Appellant Mr Gayle relied on the grounds of appeal. The Judge fails to provide adequate reasons for his adverse credibility findings. Paragraph 18 and 19 of the decision place significant weight on the Appellant's failure to mention a prior visa application and of discrepancies between that application and her current claim. When she was initially interviewed, she was stressed and nervous and she had no reason to conceal this application. It is peripheral to her claim and the Judge placed undue weight on this and this constitutes an error of law. Paragraph 20 shows that the Judge found the Appellant's claim of a relationship with a work colleague to be incredible because of the controlling behaviour of her uncle. This is not justified, and the Judge should recognise that people develop relationships in all kind of circumstances. The Appellant explained in her statement how the relationship developed. Similarly, at paragraphs 22 and 23 as explained in the grounds the Judge makes adverse credibility findings without proper justification.
7. For the Respondent Mr Avery said that the grounds amounted to a disagreement with the findings of the First-tier Tribunal Judge. The visa application is a relevant factor and essentially shows that the Appellant has given two different accounts. If the Appellant's uncle was as controlling as she says then it is very difficult to understand how she could have embarked upon and continued a relationship as she claims. The interview record shows how this relationship was described.
8. I reserved my decision.
9. The facts of the Appellant's claim are relatively straightforward. She claims that her father died many years ago and after his death she, her mother and her younger sister went to live with her paternal uncle. Her father had been very strict (interview record question 59) and her uncle along with her cousin was even more strict (question 63). At the beginning of 2015 the Appellant obtained employment as a teacher. Shortly after commencing this employment she met and began a relationship with a PE teacher at the school. She never saw this teacher outside the school environment and, when not at school, would contact him by text using her mother's mobile phone. Her uncle found out about the relationship when her boyfriend came to the house to ask for her hand in marriage. The Appellant escaped Iraq with her boyfriend but became separated from him in Turkey and travelled on alone to Denmark. Whilst in a refugee camp in Denmark the Appellant saw a man who looked like her cousin and, fearing that it was indeed him, she no longer felt safe in Denmark and so travelled on to the United Kingdom.
10. In making an adverse credibility finding the judge relied on three primary aspects of her account. These were a visa application submitted in her name in 2014, the relationship that she developed with her boyfriend in Iraq and the reason given for leaving Denmark. In his grounds of appeal Mr Gayle suggests that the judge's finding in each respect is inadequate. I will deal with them in turn.
11. The visa application, to visit her brother in the UK, was made in the Appellant's name in 2014 at the British Embassy in Amman. The application showed the Appellant's previous address (where she had lived before the claimed death of her father) rather than the address where she lived with her uncle. It showed her employment as a teacher when, according to her account she did not commence this employment until January 2015. The Appellant's explanation for the discrepancies in the application and indeed her failure to mention it was that her controlling uncle had made the application on her behalf and she had known very little if anything about it. The Judge did not accept this explanation and explains his reasoning at paragraphs 18 to 20 of his decision. There is in my judgement no irrationality or lack of explanation for the Judge's findings in this respect. He has not placed undue weight on a peripheral matter as suggested but indeed has identified discrepancies which go to the heart of the Appellant's claim being her residence at her uncle's home and the commencement of her relationship during a new employment. There is no error of law.
12. The Appellant claimed to have commenced employment as a teacher at the beginning of 2015 and shortly thereafter commenced a romantic relationship with a fellow teacher. She said that this relationship was confined to the school and the only communication outside school was by text message using her mother's telephone when she was in the toilet. The Judge did not find this credible bearing in mind the controlling behaviour of her uncle the limited opportunities to continue the relationship at the school and the arrangements made for leaving the country. In my judgement these are findings that the Judge was entitled to make on the evidence that was before him. The core of the Appellant's claim was that her uncle was significantly stricter than her father and that he would not even allow her to purchase her own clothing. In her short time as a teacher, timing which any event conflicted with information contained in the visa application the Judge was entitled to find that it was implausible that she had been able to commence and continue an illicit relationship as claimed. The finding is explained at paragraph 21 and it is not in my judgement perverse or inadequately reasoned.
13. The grounds of appeal suggest that an adverse credibility finding was made on the Appellant's failure to explain how she funded her onward journey from Turkey to Denmark. This is a misreading of the decision. Paragraph 22 of the decision merely comments that it is not clear how her onward journey was funded. There is no error of law revealed by this statement.
14. Having arrived in Denmark and claimed asylum the Appellant claimed to have seen a person who looked like her cousin and for this reason did not feel safe to remain in Denmark. The Judge explains at paragraph 23 that there was no suggestion at this stage she was in contact with anyone in Iraq or that there was any way in which people in Iraq would know that she was in Denmark. The grounds of appeal assert that the Judge erred by failing to consider how Kurdish communities place emphasis on knowing where their members are and to which family they belong. It is asserted that the Judge was inevitably influenced by British customs as well as his own background. In my judgement there is no perversity or irrationality in the judge's conclusion.
15. The explanation given by the Judge for his adverse credibility finding in all respects is adequately reasoned, clear and in my judgement unimpeachable. There is no error of law material to the decision to dismiss the appeal. The appeal to the Upper Tribunal is dismissed.
Summary of Decision
16. Appeal dismissed.
Signed Date: 21 June 2019
J F W Phillips
Deputy Judge of the Upper Tribunal