The decision

Appeal no. HX31197-2001
TM (Persecution-Christians- Individual-General) Sudan CG [2002] UKIAT 04849


Heard at Field House
On: 15 July 2002
Determination promulgated:
15 October 2002


Ms S M Ward (Chairman)
Mrs W Jordan

Teresa Muraa


Secretary of State for the Home Department


1. The Appellant, a citizen of Sudan, was given leave in a determination notified on 18 December 2001, to appeal against the decision of an Adjudicator, Mr E F Cousins, promulgated on 14 November 2001, dismissing her appeal against the decision of the Respondent refusing asylum and human entitlements..

2. At the hearing before us the Appellant was represented by Mr Srinivasan, solicitor, and the Respondent was represented by Mr Sheikh, Home Office Presenting Officer.

3. The Appellant’s claim is that she is a Roman Catholic and subject to persecution in the Sudan. Her house was bombed and she was raped by soldiers. Her sister was also raped and killed.

4. On 12 July 2002 Mr Srinivasan sent a faxed request for an adjournment to the Tribunal. In his request he stated that an adjournment was requested because the Appellant had been in hospital for the last two months “or so” and was only discharged on 10 July 2002. Mr Srinivasan renewed his request orally to us on 15 July 2002. When asked why he needed an adjournment Mr Srinivasan replied that he needed the adjournment in order to get a medical report as the Appellant had been a victim of rape. We informed Mr Srinivasan that this did not appear to be in dispute and Mr Srinivasan confirmed that it was not. Mr Srinivasan then informed us that he needed a medical report on the psychiatric condition of the Appellant in case this appeal were unsuccessful and the Respondent decided to give effect to the removal directions. We then inquired why this report had not been sought earlier and we were told that the case had been handled by a colleague of Mr Srinivasan, the latter only having become involved with the matter of Friday 12 July when he determined that a medical report was necessary, he said. Mr Sheikh for his part submitted that it was not clear to him why such a report was needed and why it had not been obtained previously.

5. We considered Mr Srinivasan’s request. No adequate reason for adjourning the hearing had been provided. It appeared that he wanted to obtain a psychiatric report on the Appellant for submission to the Respondent, and not for the purposes of this hearing. In any event, we noted that his firm had acted for the Appellant at the hearing before the Adjudicator, and Mr Srinivasan confirmed to us that his firm had been acting for the Appellant since 25 September 2001. We were of the view that the Appellant’s representatives had had more than enough time to acquire such a report for use at the hearing, if indeed such a report were to be relevant to any matter under consideration by us. It was by no means clear from Mr Srinivasan’s submissions that it would assist the Appellant in this appeal. We therefore declined to grant an adjournment and informed Mr Srinivasan that we would hear this appeal as the last matter in the list, thus affording him further time to prepare, should he require it.

6. When we later began the hearing of this appeal, we directed Mr Srinivasan’s attention to the Adjudicator’s conclusion that the Appellant had been an very unfortunate victim of war, rather than a victim of persecution for a Convention reason and we asked if he wished to challenge this conclusion. Mr Srinivasan said that he did. He said that the Appellant had been raped and her sister killed and she could expect to be the subject of further persecution on her return to Sudan. She had suffered in this way because she was a Roman Catholic. We then asked Mr Srinivasan to address us with regard to the Appellant’s human rights. He replied that he relied upon Articles 3,5, 6, 8 and 10 of the 1951 Convention, although he later decided to withdraw Article 10. We then asked him to address us with respect to each Article with his submissions regarding how the Appellant’s human rights might be breached by her removal to Sudan. Mr Srinivasan’s submission with regard to Article 3 was that the Appellant would suffer from psychological problems on her return . She had been raped and that she would face the same treatment on her return. As regards Article 5, Mr Srinivasan submitted that, because the country is predominantly Muslim, the Appellant would suffer persecution because of her religion. With respect to Article 6, he submitted that the Appellant would not get a fair trial if she reported the matter of her rape to the police. As for Article 8, it was his submission that the Appellant would be violated again if she returned to her country and this would constitute a breach of Article 8. Mr Srinivasan had not filed (nor did he seek to tender at the hearing) any background material, nor indeed any evidence at all in support of his submissions.

7. Mr Sheikh submitted that the Adjudicator had approached this appeal in the correct manner. In paragraph 31 of the Determination the Adjudicator had concluded that the Appellant had been caught up in the on-going civil war in Sudan and was a victim of war, not a victim of persecution. The Adjudicator had not been satisfied that there was any link between the bombing of the home of the Appellant (and the subsequent rape) with any Convention reason. Mr Sheikh pointed to page B2 of the appeal papers where the Appellant had described her claim to asylum. She had stated that her home had been bombed by government forces. It was against the weight of the evidence to suggest that her home had been targeted for bombing because she was a Roman Catholic. The Appellant lived in East Equatoria and there was no evidence to show that the government had targeted Roman Catholics for bombing at the relevant time. Mr Sheikh also submitted that the Appellant had not shown that there was a risk for her on her return. There was no real risk that the same would happen again. He took the Tribunal to various references within the Sudan Country Assessment ( CIPU Report) to show that Christians make up 4 to 10% of the population of the Sudan with the Christians mainly found in the south and Nuba Mountains, although the civil war had displaced many Christians to the north. The Christians are subject to discrimination and harassment but there is no evidence, he submitted, that as a group they are persecuted in Sudan. They have freedom to worship and the religion is not banned. Mr Sheikh submitted that the evidence did not show that discrimination against this Appellant as a Christian would amount to persecution in line with the Horvath test. The Appellant had no criminal record and was not wanted for anything in Sudan. She had been unfortunately caught up in a war situation but was not herself specifically targeted. She would not be returned to the warzone but to Khartoum. There was no evidence of any psychiatric condition although it had been suggested by Mr Srininvasan that she suffered with one.

8. In reply Mr Srinivasan highlighted some of the matters set out in the CIPU Report and submitted that there is discrimination against Christians in Sudan and the Roman Catholic church had not been given permission to build churches. He pointed to paragraph 5.46 of that report where it is stated that persons in Sudan have been the subject of threats from the security forces on the basis of religious beliefs and that they are routinely stopped and interrogated.

9. It is our conclusion that the Appellant has not demonstrated to us that the Adjudicator fell into error in his conclusions with regard to what happened to the Appellant in Sudan. It has not been shown that the Appellant was the victim of this appalling treatment on account of her religion, namely Roman Catholicism, or for any other Convention reason. The Adjudicator concluded that the Appellant had been a victim of the civil war in Sudan. We agree.

10. We note from paragraph 5.3 of the CIPU report that bombardments of civilian targets intensified in certain parts of the country in 2000, including East Equatoria, where this Appellant lived. Indiscriminate bombings of civilians in the south of the country have continued, according to that evidence. But these activities are, most unfortunately for those involved, part of the on-going civil war which has plagued this country for many years.

11. We also conclude that the evidence does show a real risk that this Appellant would be persecuted for her religious beliefs on her return to Sudan. The evidence, such as it is, shows that Christians account for between 4 and 10 per cent of the population. Christianity in modern Sudan is largely the result of the activities of Christian missionaries in the 19th century. Although the Christians have been traditionally located in the south and in the Nuba mountains, many have been displaced to the north by the on-going civil war. The evidence shows that foreign missionaries are often harassed by the government and there are reports of the security forces regularly harassing and at time using threats and violence against persons based on their religious beliefs and activities. Some Catholic priests report that they are routinely stopped and interrogated by the police. However, the evidence also shows that the practice of Christianity is not banned or prohibited in Sudan and Christians are allowed to practice their religion with some restrictions - non-Muslims may not proselytize and permissions are required for building churches. The evidence does not show that Christians are targeted per se as a group for treatment amount to persecution, although we accept that at times harassment and discrimination against individual Christians in that country may amount to persecution.

12.This Appellant may encounter incidents of discrimination and harassment on account of her religion. But the evidence does not show that there is a real risk that she will suffer treatment amounting to persecution on account on her religion. We note that this lady engaged in preaching at her church but the evidence does not how that this is forbidden – proselytizing is forbidden but not ordinary preaching within one’s own church.

13. With regard to the submissions of Mr Srinivasan regarding the Human Rights Convention, we feel obliged that comment they did little to further his client’s case. They lacked content and substance. Nevertheless, we have considered the evidence in the light of the articles of the Convention to which he referred.

14. We note, with regard to Article 3, that the Appellant would be returned to Khartoum and there is no evidence before us to suggest that bombing of civilian targets and fighting between rebel and government forces is taking place in that area, such as to place the Appellant at risk of being caught up again in the appalling consequences of the civil war. With regard to Article 5, we found ourselves unable to understand Mr Srinivasan’s submission which was that there would be a breach of this Article because Sudan is pre-dominantly Muslim and this lady would not be protected by the police if she were to be returned. There is no evidence to suggest that this lady will be subject to arrest or detention for any reason. She has committed no crime nor is she sought by the security forces in Sudan. The evidence does not show that ordinary Christians are at risk of detention, although we note that priests may be. The same must also be said with regard to Article 6. Mr Srinivasan submitted that the Appellant would not get a fair trial if she went to the police in Sudan. However, there is no evidence that this lady is wanted for any offence or is at risk of arrest on her return.

15. Finally we turn to Article 8. Mr Srinivasan’s submission was that this Appellant had been raped, and her sister had been raped and killed, and that this was bound to re-occur if the Appellant were to be returned. We point out that it is the decision to return the Appellant which is the matter in issue. The question for us is whether the removal of the Appellant will breach Article 8. There is no evidence before us to show what private and family life the Appellant enjoys in the United Kingdom, nor has Mr Srinivasan sought to address us on this. With regard to the situation in Sudan, there is a similar dearth of evidence. Clearly this Appellant has suffered in an appalling way from the civil war in Sudan. She has lost her sons and her sister and was the victim of rape. She has lost her home. But these events , sad and distressing though they may be, occurred in the past. It is our duty, in this context, to consider the present and in particular, whether the removal of this Appellant would result in a breach of this Appellant’s right to respect for private and family life. There is some limited evidence before us that the Appellant suffers from certain medical problems, including “pyelenephritis”, migraine and hypertension. The Appellant herself stated in her application for asylum that she suffered from bladder problems too. She was released from hospital on 10 July 2002. The Discharge Advice Letter which was tendered in evidence shows that the Appellant has been prescribed certain medication, although no follow-up services are indicated. Compelling health issues may, in certain circumstances, amount to real obstacles to family life elsewhere However, there is no evidence before us to show that this is the case here. We are unable to conclude that the removal of the Appellant would result in a breach of her right to respect for private and family life.

16. This appeal is dismissed

Ms S Ward