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Appeal to go ahead in rejected asylum claim

Appeal to go ahead in rejected asylum claim

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Appeal to go ahead in rejected asylum claim

Jersey's Royal Court has allowed a Syrian torture victim to appeal against the decision of the Customs and Immigration Service to reject his asylum claim.

The man, who can’t be named to protect his safety, arrived in Jersey illegally after leaving mainland Europe. He had fled there from his homeland after suffering torture and persecution, which were said to be so serious that he had attempted suicide.

The man claimed asylum after his arrival in Jersey, but the Customs and Immigration Service rejected it on the basis that he had made a similar claim in a European country already. Customs wanted to send the man back to that country, instead of allowing him to stay in Jersey. 

Advocate Sarah Dale, the man’s legal representative, challenged the decision in Court in September. In doing so, she hit out at the island’s approach to dealing with asylum claims, which she said had failed to consider the man’s human rights. She also criticised Jersey authorities over their treatment of the man, describing his asylum interview as resembling a criminal investigation.

Advocate Dale told Court that the man was born in Syria and lived there most of his life, but was forced to flee to mainland Europe some years ago after being captured and suffering “very serious persecution and torture".

The case was adjourned to give Customs and Immigration enough time to make a fresh decision on the claim after reviewing the man’s psychological report in detail. A clinical psychologist wrote that the man had “clinical levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and major depression,” as well as “severe psychological distress which triggers chronic suicidal thoughts.” She said that trauma-focused psychological therapy would only have limited benefit and would only work if the man was “in an environment where he feels safe.” 

Last month, the case returned to Court and the Customs and Immigration Department said they would not review their rejection. The Court heard at that time that the man had attempted suicide several times, over fears of being sent back to the UK.

The Minister for Home Affairs, represented by Legal Advisor Steven Meiklejohn, argued that the European jurisdiction was a safe country, had made it clear that they would welcome the man back, and that there were mental health facilities available to him there.


Pictured: The Deputy Bailiff has allowed the man to appeal the Customs' decision to reject his asylum claim.

The Deputy Bailiff, Tim Le Cocq, noted in his judgment that the decision had “potentially profound and far reaching effects on the applicant and his future.” “It appears to me that there are serious issues to be considered relating to the applicant’s human rights and how those interplay with the asylum regime in these particular circumstances,” he wrote.

He has now allowed the man to appeal for the decision to be reviewed, adding that there was “arguable ground for judicial review” to be successful on the basis of the human rights alone. The order to send the man back to Europe remains on hold in the meantime. 

The court's decision has been welcomed by the Jersey Cares; Refugee Action Group. Chair, Laura Ridley,  said “As a privileged, compassionate and free society, we in Jersey should be proud that we honour human rights and give the opportunity of safety to those people who, through no fault of their own, have experienced the horrors of war, persecution, torture and any other kinds of dehumanising and degrading treatment at the hands of their governments or others.” 


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