The decision


Heard at Field House

AG (GBTS, “tab” and other records) Turkey CG [2004] UKIAT 00168
On 12 May 2004


Date Determination notified:

22 June 2004


Mr P R Lane - Vice President
Mr A G Jeevanjee
Mrs J Holt







For the Appellant: Mr G Hodgetts, Counsel, instructed by Messrs
Wilson & Co. Solicitors
For the Respondent: Mr J Morris, Senior Home Office Presenting Officer


1. The Appellant, a citizen of Turkey, appeals with permission against the Determination of an Adjudicator, Mrs S Kebede, sitting at Surbiton, in which she dismissed on asylum and human rights grounds the Appellant's appeal against the decision of the Respondent on 21 February 2001 to refuse to grant the Appellant leave to enter the United Kingdom.

2. The Appellant was born on 11 September 1982 and was thus aged 17 when he entered the United Kingdom at Dover (having embarked at Calais) on 12 February 2000.

3. The Appellant told the Adjudicator that he came from “a completely Kurdish village in the province of K. Maras” in Turkey. He used to support the PKK by giving them food. As a result, he was “beaten many times by the gendarmes and was detained.” He said that his parents were also detained and beaten for the same reasons and the gendarmes shot his brother in the leg during an incident in 1998 when the father had been beaten up in front of the family. After himself being beaten by the gendarmes in January 2000, the Appellant decided to flee the country. He said that he would receive his call-up to military service when he reached 19 years of age and he did not wish to do such service as he was unwilling to fight against the PKK (paragraph 7 of the Determination).

4. In cross-examination, the Appellant said that his family still lived in the village of K.Maras but that only four or five houses were still occupied there. “All the Kurdish people in the Kurdish villages are suspected of being PKK supporters, as they all help the PKK by giving them food.” The Appellant decided to leave Turkey when he “became fed up of the torture and pressure he received”. He considered that “the military law in the mountains [of eastern Turkey] is different to the rest of the country, as the people are treated like animals” (paragraph 11).

5. At paragraph 21 of the Determination, the Adjudicator noted the Appellant's references to “continual harassment, beatings and detentions of his family members and himself over a period of years, culminating in an attack on his home and family in 1998 and then an attack on himself in January 2000. When asked by Ms Matharoo [for the Home Office] why the gendarmes suspected his family of being PKK supporters, the appellant said that all the Kurdish people in the Kurdish villages support the PKK. When asked again why his family were particularly suspected of helping the PKK, the appellant said that it was not only his family but all the people in his village and the Kurdish villages. He said that his family helped the PKK by providing food and cigarettes”.

6. At paragraph 22 the Adjudicator observed that the description given by the Appellant of assistance given by his family to the PKK and harassment suffered by the family as a result at the hands of the Turkish gendarmes was “entirely consistent with the objective evidence and I therefore have no doubts as to the credibility of his claim”. The Adjudicator then went on to note that “as the objective evidence shows and as the Appellant himself confirmed, his experiences were no different to that of the many Kurdish families living in the villages in south east Turkey. The Appellant has never claimed to have come from a family involved with the PKK in any way other than simply assisting them by providing basic supplies. He has never claimed to have had any involvement in politics other than his support for the PKK and he has never claimed to have been of particular interest to the authorities over and above any other Kurdish villager in the area. Whilst he claims that his father was detained on several occasions and that he himself experienced detention, he never claimed that such detentions were anything other than routine detentions by the gendarmes on the basis simply of being a Kurdish villager”.

7. At paragraph 23, the Adjudicator noted what (as at 11 September 2002 when the appeal was heard) was the evidence from the most recent Home Office CIPU Report on Turkey. The Appellant's “own province of K. Maras is referred to as suffering from the brutality of the Turkish forces. However, following the capture of Okalan [the leader of the PKK] in 1999, PKK fighters withdrew from Turkey at the end of August 1999 and the number of armed confrontations in the south east declined considerably”. Having been almost completely inactive in 2000, the PKK on 16 April 2002 announced that it had ceased activities and regrouped as KADEK. The Adjudicator considered that the account given by the Appellant of his family’s problems at the hands of the gendarmes was “consistent with the heightened tension at that time (i.e. 1993 - 1998). The Adjudicator considered that the beating in January 2000 was “a more isolated incident rather than the regular beatings and detentions prior to the cessation of the PKK’s activities”.

8. At paragraph 24, the Adjudicator considered that, whilst the treatment meted out to the Appellant's family prior to 1998 amounted to persecution on the basis of Kurdish ethnicity, along with all the other Kurdish families in the villages in the area, she found that “the risks of continued persecution abated with the cessation of PKK’s activities”. Finding that the Appellant was “no longer at risk of persecution on the basis of his ethnicity nor on the basis of any links with the PKK when he left Turkey and that he would no longer be at risk now”, the Adjudicator concluded that “the Appellant's departure from Turkey at this time was motivated by an avoidance of military service rather than fears of persecution”.

9. At paragraph 25, the Adjudicator considered that the Appellant would not on return be viewed as a suspected separatist on the basis of records of previous events and detentions. These detentions, together with those of the Appellant's father, were in the Adjudicator’s view “no more than routine detentions to establish links to the PKK and the fact that neither were detained for any considerable amount of time indicates that the authorities had no particular interest in them and did not consider them to be linked to the separatists.” The Adjudicator therefore found “that the Turkish authorities would have no interest in the Appellant and that he could safely return to his home area”.

10. In any event, the Adjudicator found at paragraph 26 that, were the Appellant not able to return to his home area, it would not be unduly harsh to expect him to relocate outside south east Turkey, such as in Istanbul “where there are large Kurdish communities and where the Kurdish people no longer experience discrimination”. The Adjudicator referred to the CIPU Report at paragraph 5.103 and 5.105 as noting that Kurds were integrated and assimilated into Turkish society and that outside south east Turkey Kurds do not usually suffer persecution or even bureaucratic discrimination, provided that they do not publicly or politically assert a Kurdish ethnic identity. Given that the Appellant was “a young, healthy male who has managed to make his way to and reside in a new country with a different culture and language” she considered that he would be able to establish himself in a city such as Istanbul.

11. At paragraph 27 the Adjudicator felt unable to place significant weight on the psychiatric report on the Appellant, which stated he was suffering from chronic post traumatic stress disorder, given that this conclusion “was based upon a 2-hour assessment and also upon the Appellant's own description of his feelings rather than a more lengthy and objective assessment”. In any event, the Adjudicator noted that there were adequate facilities available in Turkey to treat psychological problems.

12. At paragraph 28 of the Determination the Adjudicator considered the question of risk on arrival at the airport in Istanbul, in the light of her findings of fact. Noting that the CIPU Report stated that the Turkish police could question any deported citizen upon arrival at the airport, she also observed that in general there was said to be no follow-up unless a returnee was subject to legal proceedings. The Adjudicator found that in the present case the Appellant was not subject to such proceedings. The report went on to indicate that undocumented returnees were generally not being maltreated whilst being kept in custody unless they were suspected separatists. The Adjudicator found that the Appellant was not a suspected separatist. She found it “unlikely that the Appellant's family’s history will be recorded, given that it is no different to that of most Kurdish families living in Kurdish villages in south east Turkey and even if such records did exist, I find no reason to suggest that they would lead to any further interest in the Appellant “.

13. As for military service, the Adjudicator stated at paragraph 29 of the Determination that the Appellant had not claimed to have yet received any call up papers, notwithstanding that his evidence was that he had been in contact with his family, since arriving in the United Kingdom. However, even if he had failed to register for such service, the CIPU Report stated that people who had evaded registration or examination or failed to report were regularly released after questioning and instructed to report to their military registration office within a few days. Usually, even if a person receives a prison sentence for evasion, that sentence is generally commuted into a fine. The Adjudicator rejected the submission put forward by Mr Hodgetts, on behalf of the Appellant, that any questioning he would receive due to his evasion of registration would put him at risk. This was on the basis of the Adjudicator’s findings “that he is otherwise of no interest to the authorities”.

14. The grounds of appeal assert that the Adjudicator's categorisation of the 2000 beating of the Appellant as an isolated incident was irrational, that her finding that the Appellant was of no interest to the authorities was perverse and that her overall finding that he would not be perceived as a suspected separatist was also irrational. The grounds further complain that the Adjudicator’s treatment of the psychiatric evidence was perverse and cursory and that she failed to take into account the written evidence of Ms Sheri Laizer of 14 January 2002; in particular, the Appellant's accepted links with the PKK would be sufficient to put him at real risk on return.

15. The Adjudicator is criticised for finding that the beating of the Appellant in January 2000 was an isolated incident. The Tribunal does not agree. Paragraph 17 of the Appellant's statement (bundle, page 30) says that “after this incident in 1998, I was beaten up regularly by the gendarmes. They would beat me with truncheons and with the back of the rifle in my stomach and my chest. It was because I was young and it was a way to try to intimate me”. Paragraph 18 then begins “the last time that I was beaten was in January 2000. I was in the village and the gendarmes saw me and started to hit me with truncheons. It was snowing and then they kicked me and dragged me on the snow in the village. After this incident I realised that I was not safe and I had to flee. I wanted to stay in the village but they pushed me out. Due to my age I knew that I would be regularly tortured and persecuted”.

16. There is nothing in paragraph 17 of the statement that compels the conclusion that the regular beatings described there continued right up to January 2000. In particular, there is nothing that suggests the Adjudicator was wrong to infer that the events involving the PKK of 1999, described at paragraph 23 of the Determination, would have generated the level of interest in the Kurdish village of the Appellant, on the part of the authorities.

17. In any event, whether or not the Adjudicator was right to describe the incident of January 2000 as an isolated one, this does not vitiate her overall findings.

18. The Tribunal also rejects the submission on behalf of the Appellant, that the Adjudicator was wrong at paragraphs 21 and 22 of the Determination to view the ill-treatment of the Appellant and his father as no more than the sort of problems which Kurdish families in general, living in the villages of south-east Turkey, were experiencing at the hands of the authorities at the relevant time. However the Appellant may have chose to put the matter in his written statement, the Adjudicator was plainly entitled as a matter of law to place weight upon the way in which he had put his case in his oral evidence to her. There is no indication that the Adjudicator, at paragraphs 21 and 22, has mis-stated the way in which that oral evidence was given.

19. The Adjudicator dealt with risk on return to the airport in Istanbul at paragraph 28 of her Determination and this is a matter upon which we heard detailed submissions from Mr Hodgetts.

20. Upon the documentary evidence available to her at the time of the hearing, the Adjudicator concluded, as we already observed, that it was unlikely the Appellant's family’s history would be recorded “given that it is no different to that of most Kurdish families living in the Kurdish villages in south-east Turkey”. On that evidence, the Tribunal is satisfied that the Adjudicator was entitled to her conclusion.

21. In the October 2003 CIPU Report on Turkey, new information emerged on the precise scope of the Central Computer Information System, known as the GBTS, said to be operated by the Turkish authorities at international airports. That information was analysed by the Tribunal in the case of O (Turkey) [2004] UKIAT 00038. What was significant about the information regarding the GBTS considered in the case of O and, indeed, the present case, is that it appears that the GBTS does not contain a record of someone who has merely been detained by the gendarmerie, without being formally arrested or charged.

22. Mr Hodgetts submitted that the information now found at paragraphs 6.240 to 6.242 of the April 2004 CIPU Report on Turkey was, in its earlier form in the October 2003 Report, not considered by the Tribunal in O and that as a result, the conclusions of the Tribunal in that case cannot be relied upon.

23. In fact, the relevant materials (referring to a Netherlands Report of January 2002) were expressly considered by the Tribunal in O at paragraphs 39 to 46 of the Determination in that case. Furthermore, there is no substance in Mr Hodgetts’s submission that the reference at (what is now) paragraph 6.241 of the CIPU Report to checks on whether there is a criminal investigation by the gendarma against the returnee, in some way is incompatible with the information now set out at paragraphs 5.49 to 5.53 of the April 2004 report, concerning the information that is held on the GBTS system.

24. On return to Turkey, the Appellant will be questioned by the immigration authorities. They will, it is accepted by both parties, have access to the GBTS system. If the Appellant's name does not occur on that system, then the likelihood of the Appellant ending up in the offices of the anti-terror branch (where torture of suspects is, regrettably, likely) must, in the Tribunal’s view, be regarded as remote.

25. Paragraphs 5.54 to 5.57 of the April 2004 CIPU Assessment refer to a non-governmental organisation called the Swiss Organisation for Refugees which, in a report published in June 2003, notes that, in addition to the GBTS system, various security forces each have their own systems. These include the gendarmerie and the military secret service. The report concludes that “it is therefore perfectly possible for someone not to be listed on the central system but to be sought by the anti-terrorist unit”. Paragraph 5.57 states that “despite the absence of entries in the Central Information System, the individual concerned might be listed on one of the other information systems. This must certainly be assumed in the case of individuals who have already been taken into custody by the police, gendarmerie or some other branch of the security forces in the past”.

26. In paragraph 3(iii) of her latest report (bundle page 59) Ms Sheri Laizer states that at Turkey’s international airports “an individual’s details are keyed into the computer. In the booth where the Immigration Officer sits, there are also printed lists of persons sought by the state. Taped to the walls of the booths are photographs”.

27. The Tribunal has no doubt whatsoever but that the immigration official at Istanbul or one of the other international airports will have available a list of persons who are “sought by the anti-terror unit” or otherwise “sought by the state”. In the case of persons in respect of whom a warrant of arrest has been issued, the relevant details will appear on the GBTS system. In addition, we consider it reasonably likely that individuals who are sought by the anti-terrorist unit or who are otherwise regarded as undesirable may well feature on a printed list available to the immigration official. According to paragraph 2(iii) of Ms Laizer’s report, she believes that her name, together with certain British MPs and Lords, who had been associated with Kurdish and Turkish refugees outside Turkey, featured on the GBTS system, with the result that she was denied access to Turkey, upon arriving there in 1998. The weight of the documentary evidence regarding the GBTS, including that of the Turkish lawyer Mr Kanat (featured at pages 61 and 62 of the bundle) makes it, however, unlikely that these details featured on the GBTS. It is in our view more likely that they were available on some printed list. Be that as it may, however, the point at issue is whether this Appellant's details, as a person who had the experiences with the Turkish authorities in south-east Turkey found by the Adjudicator, would feature on the GBTS or on a printed list as someone sought by the anti-terrorist unit. On the evidence, the Tribunal can find no reason why this should be so. As for being “undesirable” such as Ms Laizer was regarded as being, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Appellant, whilst in the United Kingdom, has associated himself with Kurdish affairs to the point that he might have come to the attention of any elements of the Turkish security services that may operate in the United Kingdom.

28. It is also pertinent to observe that at paragraph 5.57 the Swiss Organisation for Refugees merely notes that a person “might” be listed on one of the other information systems. Whilst the report goes on to say that this must be assumed in the case of individuals “who have already been taken into custody by the police, gendarmerie or some other branch of the security forces”, there is no reason to assume that the reference to people being taken into custody is to be equated with the sort of informal detention which, as paragraphs 5.40 to 5.43 of the CIPU Report make clear, is frequently resorted to by the police in Turkey, as opposed to custody following arrest. In short, the information emanating from the Swiss Organisation for Refugees cannot be said to demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that the immigration officials at the airport will have computerised access to a record that would show that this Appellant was previously detained by the gendarmerie in his home village in southeast Turkey, in the circumstances he described to the Adjudicator.

29. Much of Ms Laizer’s report is devoted to an article in a Turkish newspaper which “attracted wide public attention and provoked incense (sic) when exposing the Turkish military’s (secret) plans to gather and maintain its own intelligence database on significant sectors of the public including socially and politically prominent individuals, artists, actors, opposition writers, thinkers, television companies and radio stations, persons from ethnic minority groups about whose activities, economic sources, local leaders and programmes information was to be gathered, groups whose aims were not clear, meditation groups, cults, sects, high society groups, rich kids’ groups etc.”. The significance of this is, however, in the present context minimal. The plans of the Turkish military appear to be just that, rather than an already functioning system. Furthermore, there is no reason why the Appellant should fall into any of the categories mentioned.

30. The Turkish lawyer Mr Kanat, at page 62 of the bundle, is clear about what is accessible from the computers at the airport:-

“The computer system at the airport does contain the GBT records - at times, not all of the GBT records are contained. But, it should be noted that the records contained in their computers are the records contained in the GBT.”

31. The preceding paragraphs of Mr Kanat’s report confirm the scope of the GBTS, as recorded in paragraphs 5.49 to 5.53 of the April 2004 CIPU Report.

32. Mr Hodgetts asked the Tribunal to find that, in any event, the gendarmerie in the Appellant's locality would have a record of him and his father, as being suspected of helping the PKK. In this regard, Mr Hodgetts referred to the Sheri Laizer report and Mr Kanat’s report, both of which speak about what are described as “tab records”. At page 60 of the bundle, paragraph 3(viii), Ms Laizer opines that these locally held records “will also establish any political links with other family members and associates who may have come to the attention of the police and security services”. She considers such records to be “a vital useful ongoing means of keeping the local population under surveillance and of monitoring their ongoing activities, comings and goings in order to maintain the Kemalist state”.

33. Mr Kanat has this to say:-

“However, in some cases we are aware, depending on the nature of the offence/crime, even if details are erased from the system the security forces will have separate record/files. In daily language this is known as “a tab record” “Fis Kaydi” (informal records kept by the security forces and anti-terror branch). These records do not cause a problem for the individual as such, however should the individual be taken into custody for another offence, the security forces will refer to this record and prepare a file in respect of previous incidents to file with the judiciary”.

34. It appears from this that Mr Kanat is more circumspect that Ms Laizer as to what might be kept on a “tab record”. It would appear likely that only details of offences or crimes appear on the tab records. However, even if one assumes that at a gendarmerie station in southeast Turkey a tab record will still exist in respect of the Appellant (whether personally or by reference to his father, or both), the evidence before the Tribunal simply does not show a reasonable likelihood that this information will be accessible by the immigration authorities at the airport.

35. Mr Hodgetts put forward two possible ways in which the Appellant, even if he did not feature on the computerised record at the airport, would nevertheless be at real risk of being handed over to the anti-terror branch.

36. First, paragraph 6.242 of the CIPU Report (referring to The Netherlands Report of 2002 - see above), states that questioning of the Appellant will include his reasons for exiting from Turkey. If asked why he left, Mr Hodgetts suggests that the Appellant will be expected to tell the truth, namely, that he fled from the gendarmerie who were regularly beating him because they suspected he was assisting the PKK.

37. We have already stated that the Adjudicator was, in the Tribunal’s view, entitled to find that the Appellant was, in reality, describing to her no more than an instance of the general, hostile attitude that the Turkish authorities took towards rural Kurdish villagers during the height of the PKK terrorist campaign in the 1990s. Indeed, as we have already noted, that is how the Appellant himself chose to characterise the position in his evidence to the Adjudicator. The Turkish authorities at the airport will manifestly be well aware of the situation in south east Turkey during the state of emergency which existed in various provinces of south east Turkey but which was lifted in the last two remaining provinces in November 2002 (CIPU paragraph 6.301). As 6.240 of the CIPU Report notes (quoting The Netherlands Report of January 2002), the Turkish authorities are also “aware that many citizens leave the country for economic reasons and apply for asylum elsewhere. However, people who have engaged in activities abroad which the Turkish authorities regard as separatist are at risk of persecution if the Turkish authorities find out”.

38. The re-grouping of the PKK as KADEK, noted by the Adjudicator in the present case, was followed by a decision, recorded at paragraph 6.172, in September 2003 that that organisation would end its four-year ceasefire. However, a spokeswoman for the PKK/KADEK “stated that she did not expect a return to all-out conflict but instead some sort of low intensity warfare”. The Tribunal has not had its attention drawn to any documentation to show that, following this announcement, the situation in southeast Turkey, which had plainly been improving, has significantly deteriorated. On the contrary, a European Commission Report of November 2003 observes that “the lifting of the state of emergency had a positive psychological impact in the region in spite of increased tension caused by events related to the Iraq war with the deployment of military units and concerns about possible resurgence of terrorism. Although the security situation has continued to improve in recent months, there have been several armed clashes resulting in casualties, including deaths. Checkpoints are still present in the area but controls are scarcer than in the past and the military presence less visible” (paragraph 6.174). The Commission continued by noting that “as a result of the improved security, an increasing number of cultural manifestations were authorised and took place with high levels of participation. Of particular significance was the celebration of the Diyarbakir, Hakkari and Tunceli festivals. In a few cases, however, events were banned and incidents with security forces occurred. There are still reports of violation of fundamental freedoms although these are more limited in scope” (paragraph 6.175).

39. Against this background, it is highly unlikely in reality that the Turkish authorities at the airport would be interested in the fact that, over four years ago, the Appellant, in common with many others at the time, suffered the adverse attentions of the local gendarmerie.

40. The Tribunal makes this finding, notwithstanding what is said in Dr Sen’s medical report (bundle, pages 36 to 44). Dr Sen diagnosed post traumatic stress disorder and depression. He also recorded what he must have been told by the Appellant was the latter's distress and fright upon seeing “sights of policemen and sights of Turkish soldiers on television”. That report is, however, dated as long ago as 24 April 2001. In it, Dr Sen recommended that the Appellant should receive treatment including the prescription of anti-depressants and counselling. If he has received such treatment in the past three years, the Tribunal has not been made aware of it. The Adjudicator, who had the benefit of seeing and hearing the Appellant give evidence, makes no reference to his being in difficulties in giving that evidence, notwithstanding that appearing before the Adjudicator would no doubt have been a stressful experience for him. On the contrary, she described the Appellant at paragraph 26 of the Determination as “a young, healthy male who has managed to make his way to and reside in a new country with a different culture and language”. In short, we do not accept that the Appellant’s appearance or likely behaviour at the airport on return to Turkey would be such as to put him at risk during questioning.

41. The second reason why Mr Hodgetts submits the Appellant would be given a much more thorough investigation on return, which could lead to the uncovering of local records about him, is because the Appellant is “a draft evader”. There is, however, no evidence before the Tribunal that draft papers have ever been sent to the Appellant's address. As the Adjudicator records, he left Turkey before he became of an age to do compulsory military service. In any event, paragraph 6.245 of the CIPU Report has this to say on the matter:-

“6.245 The Netherlands report on military service (July 20021) states that “if [draft evaders and deserters are] arrested, the arresting body transfers them within a minimum of 48 hours to their military unit. If the persons concerned are not being prosecuted for (political) offences other than evasion of registration/examination or enlistment or for desertion, the danger of abuse, intimidation, mistreatment or torture during the interrogation or the 48-hour maximum detention is very slight. Persons who have evaded registration/examination or failed to report are set free by the arresting body after interrogation and summoned to appear within a few days at their military registration office”.

42. There is no evidence to suggest that anything different would happen in the present case. Mr Hodgetts specifically did not submit that, during any time he might spend in the Turkish military, the Appellant would be at real risk of persecutory treatment.

43. Accordingly, given that he is of military age, it may well be that the Appellant, on return, would be required to undertake his military service. If he is not, however, then the Tribunal finds that, on the evidence before it, the Appellant could return to his home area. As the Adjudicator noted, the Appellant is in touch with his family. Mr Hodgetts’s instructions (not, he was careful to emphasise, supported by any evidence before the Tribunal) were that the authorities had been enquiring after the Appellant. Even if this is so, however, it may well be because they want to enlist him for military service. In any event, there is no evidence before us that the father of the Appellant has been recently subjected to ill treatment. Given the improved security situation in southeast Turkey, the Tribunal concludes that the Adjudicator was correct to find that the Appellant could return home today. Even if there are “tab records” on him, still held locally, those records would not, as Mr Kanat observes at page 62 of the bundle, cause him a problem unless he is taken into custody for another offence.

44. If both the Adjudicator and the Tribunal are wrong about the ability of the Appellant to return to his home area, and if he is not required to do military service, then it is manifest that he could relocate without undue hardship to another part of Turkey such as Istanbul. The objective evidence records that many thousands of Kurds live in that city. As Mr Morris submitted, on the evidence in this case, there is no reason why the Appellant could not register with a Mukhtar in Istanbul. That Mukhtar may contact the Mukhtar in the Appellant's own area. However, there is no cogent evidence before the Tribunal to show that this would result in any “tab records” on the Appellant becoming available to the Istanbul Mukhtar, even if such records exist, nor that the Istanbul Mukhtar would be reasonably likely to do anything about them. In any event, the objective evidence shows that very many people choose not to register with a Mukhtar. That has certain disadvantages, including limitation on access to social services, but a young man in the position of this Appellant cannot be said to be doomed to a life of undue harshness, should he choose not to register.

45. Similarly, the Tribunal sees no reason in the present case why the Appellant could not seek to obtain an identity card (see paragraphs 6.133 to 6.136 of the CIPU Report).

46. This appeal is dismissed.