The decision

Heard at Field House

BG (Removal to Eritrea of Ethiopia/Eritrean) Eritrea CG [2003] UKIAT 00091
On 9 June 2003


Date Determination notified:



Mr P R Moulden (Chairman)
Mr J Freeman







1. The appellant is or may be a citizen of Ethiopia or Eritrea. She has been given leave to appeal the determination of an Adjudicator, Miss M N Lingard, dismissing her appeal against the respondent’s decision to give directions for her removal from the United Kingdom to Eritrea following the refusal of asylum.

2. Mr R O’Ryan of Counsel instructed by Noden & Co Solicitors, appeared for the appellant. Mr S Walker, a Home Office Presenting Officer, represented the respondent.

3. The appellant, whose date of birth is 2 August 1982, arrived in the United Kingdom on 24 November 1999 using a false passport provided by an agent. She claimed asylum on 29 November 1999. The notice containing the decision against which she appeals is dated 4 September 2001. The Adjudicator heard the appeal on 14 June 2002 and leave to appeal was granted on 1 August 2002.
4. The appellant’s parents originally came from what is now Eritrea. They moved to and lived in what was and still is Ethiopia. The appellant was born in Addis Ababa and lived with her parents. She had no problems until the border conflict of May 1998. Because of the war her schooling was disrupted and, as a consequence of her Eritrean origin, she was subjected to verbal and physical abuse and threats by Ethiopian students. While she was at school, in May 1999, she and a friend were attacked by other students. The appellant was hit on the head and had a hot iron applied to her leg whilst her friend had a hot iron placed on her chest. The authorities started coming to the house and abusing the family. In May or June 1999 soldiers came to the house and attacked her father. The appellant was hidden in a seed store container. After this her parents sent her to stay with an aunt about 45 km outside Addis Ababa. Approximately three days later the appellant learned that her parents had been taken away by government soldiers. She said that she did not know what had happened to them. The appellant remained with her aunt for approximately five months. However, neighbours informed the authorities and government soldiers came and searched the house in about November 1999. The appellant’s aunt then made arrangements for her to leave the country.

5. The Adjudicator examined the appellant’s account of events against the country information and concluded that she was broadly credible. However, the Adjudicator found that the appellant had not told the truth about contact with her family after her arrival in the United Kingdom. It was likely that her parents had been deported to Eritrea by the Ethiopian authorities. It was also likely that the appellant knew about her parent’s Eritrean background, where they were born and their family connections.

6. The Adjudicator found that the appellant was not likely to be persecuted or suffer infringement of her Article 3 human rights if she was sent to Eritrea. On the limited medical evidence, from the appellant’s general practitioner, it was not likely that she was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

7. The grounds of appeal submit that the Adjudicator erred in finding that the appellant was or could become an Eritrean citizen. She should have explained how this entitlement arose. Submissions are made as to the circumstances in which individuals are entitled to Eritrean nationality, but it is common ground that at least some of these have been overtaken by more up-to-date country information. It is argued that the appellant cannot be expected to apply for Eritrean nationality and that the Adjudicator failed to give any or sufficient weight to the evidence of Professor Cliffe.

8. This appeal first came before us on 27 November 2002 but was adjourned so that the appellant could approach the Eritrean Embassy with a view to obtaining a passport or some form of official documentation. There was a subsequent hearing for mention only on 28 April 2003.

9. We have an expert report from Professor Lionel Cliffe dated 7 February 2002 with a supplemental report dated 21 April 2003, copies of the Tribunal determinations in Berhe [2002] UKIAT 06317, Gemany [2002] UKIAT 07099, a letter from the appellant’s solicitors, Noden & Co, dated 23 April 2003, relating to the appellant’s visit to the Eritrean Embassy, correspondence between NATFAM, the Home Office Presenting Officers Unit and the Eritrean Embassy, the appellant’s bundle running to 129 pages and the Home Office Eritrea Country Assessment of April 2003.

10. Professor Cliffe gave evidence and adopted his original and supplementary reports. He is retired and an Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Leeds. He has studied the situation in Eritrea and Ethiopia since the late 1970s and has written books and articles on that part of Africa. He visited both countries, twice in 2001 and Ethiopia again in 2002. He keeps up-to-date with pertinent publications and on the Internet.

11. From his evidence and the other country information before us we draw the following conclusions. The appellant was an Ethiopian citizen until 1993 when Eritrea became a separate state. Thereafter she remained an Ethiopian citizen and there is no evidence that she or her parents took any steps to become Eritrean citizens. The Adjudicator found that the appellant’s parents were deported to Eritrea and there is no appeal against this conclusion. Whilst it is likely that her parents are in Eritrea we do not know their status in that country.

12. The appellant was therefore an Ethiopian citizen when she left that country in about November 1999. In the light of the removal directions to Eritrea it is not necessary for us to reach any conclusions as to whether the appellant has lost or might lose her Ethiopian citizenship or whether, if she chose to return to Ethiopia, she might be deported to Eritrea.

13. What was the Eritrean Consulate in London has now been upgraded to an Embassy. Professor Cliffe’s evidence is that whilst it was a Consulate all applications for passports or travel documents were referred to Asmara for checking and, in all likelihood, for a decision as well. Now that the post has been upgraded it would appear that not all applications are referred to Asmara. Decisions can be made in London. We have been provided with a copy of a letter from the Eritrean Embassy in London dated 29 August 2002 which sets out the requirements for establishing Eritrean nationality. This is the same as the information contained in paragraph 5.6 of the current CIPU report. It would appear that, at least in the United Kingdom, the appellant is not able to go to the Embassy with the three witnesses required to prove her entitlement to Eritrean nationality. Professor Cliffe points out that, both in London and in Eritrea, there are two types of document which may be issued to an individual claiming Eritrean nationality. Both are a type of identity card. A blue identity card is issued if the authorities accept that the individual is an Eritrean national. A yellow identity card is issued if the individual is thought to have connections with Eritrea but to have come from Ethiopia and is unable to establish full entitlement to Eritrean citizenship. It appears that passports are not issued in London. On an application in London there is a third alternative, that the individual may be refused any form of identity or travel document.

14. Professor Cliffe said that there were a limited number of countries, including Ethiopia and Eritrea, which did not accept standard United Kingdom or EU temporary travel documents for those who do not have proper passports or travel documents of their own. Eritrea requires a travel document issued by its’ own authorities. This is either a blue card or a yellow card. In the absence of any such card it does not appear that the Secretary of State will be in any position to return the appellant to Eritrea.

15. If documentation can be obtained for the appellant to go to Eritrea we accept Professor Cliffe’s conclusion that she is likely to be identified as coming from Ethiopia, because of her language, other cultural signs and her documentation. However, it is clear from Professor Cliffe’s evidence and the other country information that tens of thousands of Ethiopians of Eritrean descent have gone to Eritrea from Ethiopia, either compulsorily or voluntarily.

16. Professor Cliffe’s evidence indicates that there have been divisions within the ruling party in Eritrea and that dissident elements have been detained without trial and the independent media closed down. Official rhetoric tends to link opponents to Ethiopia. There is no suggestion that the appellant has been involved in politics in any way or that she would be in any difficulty because of parental involvement in politics. Professor Cliffe speaks of the possibility of suspicion and harassment, but not of action, except in relation to possible military service, which would amount to persecution or cross the Article 3 threshold.

17. If the appellant goes to Ethiopia with a yellow card but not an Eritrean passport or a blue card she may be able to find her parents or others who can vouch for her identity and thus enable her to obtain a blue card.

18. If she does obtain a blue card she is within the age range which makes her liable for compulsory military service. There is no evidence that she has any conscientious objection to military service or would refuse to serve. In the circumstances Professor Cliffe confirmed and we find that the Eritrean forces are not engaged in any conflict and she would not have to fight.

19. Professor Cliffe’s evidence as to military service and those who hold yellow cards is unclear and to some extent contradictory. On the one hand he thought that those holding yellow cards, which identify them as Ethiopian, might be liable to military service in Eritrea. He was not able to point us to any country information, Eritrean law or part of the Eritrean Constitution which specifies the required nationality for military service. On the other hand he said that those holding yellow cards were sometimes arrested, questioned and detained for short periods on suspicion that they were not Ethiopians but in fact Eritreans dodging military service. If Ethiopians who hold yellow cards are not exempt from military service then no useful purpose would be served by an Eritrean obtaining such a card with a view to avoiding military service. We find that the appellant has not established that, if she were to hold a yellow card, she would be liable to military service or that, if she was not so liable, potential arrest, questioning and even short periods of detention would amount to persecution or infringement of her Article 3 human rights.

20. In his supplementary report Professor Cliffe suggests that if the appellant were to make an application at the Eritrean Embassy in the United Kingdom she might provide them with information which, when referred back to Eritrea, could cause her difficulties. There is no detail as to how this might arise and nothing in the evidence before us to indicate that there is anything in the appellant’s or her parent’s history likely to cause her any problems.

21. Mr O’Ryan conceded that to send the appellant to Eritrea would be to send her to “a country or territory to which there is reason to believe that she will be admitted” within the provisions of Schedule 2 Section 8(1)(c)(iii) of the Immigration Act 1971 and that on Professor Cliffe’s evidence she was likely to be admitted to Eritrea. The Adjudicator records that the appellant had not argued that she would suffer significant ill treatment in Eritrea. The grounds of appeal have not questioned this conclusion. He accepted that, in these circumstances, there was no current basis for suggesting that the appellant feared persecution or serious harm in Eritrea.

22. We dismiss this appeal.

P R Moulden
Vice President