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Journalist could not be denied asylum as profession linked to political conviction

Secretary of State for the Home Department and MSM (Somalia) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [2016] EWCA Civ 715

The Court of Appeal held that an asylum seeker, who was a journalist, would have been at risk on return to Somalia on the grounds of his actual and imputed political opinion.

The respondent had worked as a journalist for a radio station in Somalia between May 2011 and September 2013.  He sought asylum in the UK in October 2013 after claiming he had received death threats from a terrorist group.  He applied for refugee status on the basis that he would be persecuted if returned.  The Secretary of Stated denied his claim to asylum and the First-tier tribunal agreed.  The right to practice his profession did not amount to a fundamental Convention right and the respondent could revert to an alternative career to support himself and avoid persecution.

However, the Upper Tribunal held that the respondent would be persecuted by reason of political opinion, not merely imputed, and that his career in journalism was at least partly driven by political conviction.  The Court of Appeal agreed with the findings of the Upper Tribunal.  Beatson LJ gave the leading judgment and held that,

…the text of the Directive and the Convention contemplates two questions.  The first is whether the applicant for refugee status faces a well-rounded fear of persecution.  The second is the reason for that persecution...There is a single test for refugee status and…no separate test for those who do not in fact have the protected characteristic but to whom that characteristic is imputed by the actor of persecution.’

Read UK Human Rights Blog article here.

Deportation, Discrimination, Freedom of Thought, Conscience & Religion