The decision

OH ( risk – Ba’athist father) Iraq [2004] UKIAT 00254
Heard at: Field House

On 12 July 2004


Date Determination notified:

.........15th September 2004.....


Mr D K Allen (Vice President)
Mr L V Waumsley (Vice President)
Mr K Craig







For the appellant: Ms V Prais of Counsel, IAS (Tribunal Unit)
For the respondent: Mr P Deller, Home Office Presenting Officer


1. The appellant appeals to the Tribunal with permission against the determination of an Adjudicator, Mr D N Bowen, in which he dismissed his appeal against the respondent's decision of 16 August 2003, issuing directions for his removal from the United Kingdom, asylum having been refused.

2. The hearing before us took place on 12 July 2004. Ms V Prais of the IAS appeared on behalf of the appellant, and Mr P Deller appeared on behalf of the Secretary of State.

3. The Adjudicator found the appellant to be credible. The appellant's claim was that he was a Kurd and that his father had been involved with the Ba'ath party and had been murdered in January 1999 when ambushed by a group of people. In his evidence, he stated that his father had made enemies because many people had been arrested and executed or deported because of his father's enquiries and activities. He said that because his father had become a martyr, the Iraqi Government supported the family financially.

4. The appellant started work in 1996 to support his family. He became a simple member of the Ba'ath party. He did not undertake any duties, but attended meetings when asked.

5. On 20 March 2002, he was asked to attend the Ba'ath party headquarters meeting and told that he would have to join the Fidayi Saddam group and go to Palestine to fight against Israel and to change his ethnicity from Kurdish to Arab. He was given a period of time to consider this. In April 2002 the authorities came to his shop and detained him, and told him he had a month to decide what to do. As he feared execution, he decided to leave and he went to his aunt's house for a few days and thereafter with the assistance of an agent he left Iraq in May 2002 and came to the United Kingdom via Turkey.

6. He claimed that shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussain's government, his brother was killed in Iraq by unnamed men and produced a fax from his aunt concerning this. He feared that he would suffer the same fate. He said he could not live in the Kurdish Autonomous Area, because of what his father had done, and was at risk of a revenge attack.

7. The Adjudicator noted the objective evidence but concluded that there was nothing to show that the appellant faced any real risk of persecution or breach of his human rights on return. In the grounds of appeal it is argued that the Adjudicator failed to consider the objective evidence properly. Ms Prais developed this argument in her submissions to us. She relied both on the bundle of objective evidence that had been before the Adjudicator and a fresh bundle containing more up-to-date objective evidence. She also placed some reliance on the Home Office Iraq country report of April 2004. She took us to page 56 of Bundle 1, this being the bundle that was before the Adjudicator, comprising an extract from the Washington Post concerning attacks on and killings of former members of the Ba'ath party. There was evidence of revenge killings on a regular basis. This could also be seen from the BBC News Extract at Page 60 of the bundle. She also referred to the Home Office Bulletin 6 of 2003 at page 61 of the bundle concerning reprisals against Ba'ath party members and threats to Ba'ath party members' families.

8. Ms Prais also referred us to paragraphs 6.115 to 6.125 of the April 2004 country report. There was evidence of killings in general. People from the previous regime were targeted. She also referred us to pages 2-3 of the bundle of fresh objective evidence concerning revenge killings, and also an Amnesty report at pages 18 and 19. The appellant could be regarded as being a vulnerable returnee as defined by ECRE in the document at pages 13 and 14 of the bundle on account of his association with his father. He was at risk both on account of his own membership of the Ba'ath party and by association with his father.

9. Mr Deller argued that, with regard to risk in his own right, the appellant had been a very low member of the Ba'ath party, having done little more than attending meetings. There was evidence concerning no more than isolated incidents with regard to such people and this did not amount to a real risk. Paragraph 6.126 to paragraph 6.127 of the April 2004 country report provided assistance on the issue of risk to family members of Ba'ath party members. There was a risk if a person was there at the time when the Ba'ath party member was attacked, but there was no risk in this regard as the father was dead. There was no real risk as a family member per se. The general question of ongoing protection needs had to be looked at in that context. The level of activity in a person's history seemed to be relevant. The appellant was not somebody who had been involved at any level as an activist and neither as regards the separate factors nor cumulatively did he face any real risk.

10. Ms Prais, had no points to make by way of reply.

11. We consider first the question of any risk to the appellant on account of his own involvement in the Ba’ath party. Here, as we have noted above, the Adjudicator recorded his evidence that he became a simple member of the Ba'ath party but did not undertake any duties though he attended meetings when asked. Ms Prais took us to the Washington Post item at page 56 of the first bundle dated May 19 2003. There is reference to Iraqis beginning to track down and kill former members of the ruling Ba'ath party. It is said that it is difficult to say what number of former Ba'ath party officials have been killed. It is thought that killers were working from lists looted from Iraq’s bombed out security service buildings. In other cases, Ba'athist icons and irksome party officials identified with the Hussain government were being killed. The BBC news item dated 20 June 2003, refers to systematic demolition of up to 30 houses belonging to Ba'ath party officials.

12. Paragraphs 6.115 to paragraph 6.125 of the April 2004 country report are concerned specifically with reprisals against Ba'ath party members. It seems from paragraph 6.115 that sources told the 2003 UK Danish fact finding mission that Iraqis differentiated between those who joined the Ba'ath party because it was necessary for them to do so in order to get jobs, whereas others such as members of the security services who committed crimes against them and any former Ba'athists who were known to have abused their position were being targeted by way of reprisals and these would be mainly former members of the intelligence service, the security service or the Fedayeen Saddam, but even in those categories one source said that many people known to have committed abuses would be targeted. That could mean that relatively low ranking Ba'ath party members could be at risk because they had operated at street level.

13. Paragraph 6.116 refers to a report in the Seattle Times of 20 May 2003, concerning Iraqis tracking down and killing former members of the Ba'ath party. This item contains much of the same information as is to be found in the Washington Post report of 20 May 2003. There is reference specifically to a former member of the Fedayeen Saddam and a former officer in Saddam Hussein's internal security service being murdered in Basra in separate incidents in May 2003.

14. There is also reference at Paragraph 6.117 to a report concerning traditional courts offering non-violent routes for pursuing claims against Saddam Hussain's henchmen. There is further mention of other reprisals against particular individuals who seem to have been on the whole party officials and people with some position in the party, though there is reference at paragraph 6.120 to a low ranking Ba'ath member who was a security guard at a sewage plant being killed in June 2003. This person was said not to be a senior member of the party. Other examples are given at paragraph 6.122 and paragraph 6.123 of killings of Ba'ath party members.

15. In reviewing this evidence as a whole, we consider that Mr Deller is essentially right to suggest as he did, that there is no generalised risk, at least not one amounting to a real risk of harm facing a person with such a low profile in the past as the appellant. Neither did he hold any official position nor was he a person who operated at street level where there would be people who could have suffered as a consequence of his actions. In effect, all he did was to attend meetings. The chances of him being recognised as such and being singled out for any form of reprisal appear to us to be remote in the extreme and to fall some way short of amounting to a real risk in this regard. There are minimal examples of such persons sustaining reprisals of any kind in the objective evidence, and the risk is, as we say, a remote one only.

16. We consider next the risk that the appellant might face as a member of the family of a Ba'ath party member. Most of the evidence concerns reprisals against former Ba'ath party members.

17. Paragraphs 6.126 to Paragraph 6.127 of the April 2004 country report deal briefly with this issue. It is said that there is little evidence of widespread deliberate targeting of the families of Ba'ath party members in reprisal attacks, and a source informed the 2003 UK Danish fact finding mission that the families of Ba'ath party officials or people associated with the former regime would not be targeted in revenge for crimes committed during the Saddam regime, saying that Muslims do not attack family members, and such reprisals would not occur in Iraq. There was, however, some evidence of family members being caught up in reprisals on the Ba'ath party member themselves. Examples are given of families of Ba'athists being injured when attacks were carried out on the Ba'athists themselves. As Mr Deller reminded us, it is the case, however, that the appellant's father died in 1999 and he therefore does not face any risk of that account.

18. There is no indication that such matters as the revenge killings carried out to which we were referred by Ms Prais at pages 2 and 3 of her bundle from the IAS research analysis are directed at families of Ba'ath party members. There is reference here at page 3 to targeting of former Ba'ath party members, but that falls within the issues we have considered above, and we have already made our findings on that. Clearly, there are problems of insecurity, for example as referred to in the Amnesty report at page 19 of Ms Prais second bundle, and also there is a further reference at page 40 to killings of a number of civilians including former Ba'ath party members, some of which appear to have been revenge attacks. Again this falls within the matter that we have considered above. We do not consider that the evidence shows that there is a risk to the appellant as a family member of a former Ba'ath party member. Clearly, he is not at risk of any harm as a consequence of attacks on his father since his father is dead. Nor does the evidence show that reprisals are carried out against the families of Ba'ath party members. Accordingly, we consider that he does not face a real risk on this ground either.

19. In conclusion, therefore, neither separately, as a consequence of his own limited involvement in the Ba'ath party or as a family member of a Ba'ath party member, or cumulatively, do we consider that the appellant faces any real risk on return of persecution or breach of his human rights. We do not consider
that it has been shown that the Adjudicator fell into error in reaching his conclusions, and as a consequence, this appeal is dismissed.

D K Allen
Vice President