The decision

Upper Tribunal
(Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Appeal Number: AA/11055/2012


Heard at Glasgow
Determination promulgated
on 5th June 2013
On 6 June 2013



upper tribunal JUDGE MACLEMAN





For the Appellant: Mrs F Farrell, of P G Farrell, Solicitors
For the Respondent: Mrs M O’Brien, Senior Presenting Officer


1. The Appellant is a citizen of Zimbabwe, born on 6th June 1988. She says that she entered the UK unlawfully in 2004. She sought asylum on 20th March 2009. Her appeal against refusal of that claim was dismissed by Immigration Judge J G Macdonald by determination promulgated on 20th July 2009. The Appellant had exhausted her appeal rights by 21st December 2009. Following a judicial review, further representations were refused with no right of appeal on 4th August 2011. The Appellant was encountered on 18th October 2012, following which she again made further representations. Those were refused for reasons explained in the Respondent’s letter dated 27th November 2012, under reference to RT [2012] UKSC 38 and to RN Zimbabwe CG [2008] UKAIT 0083.
2. First-tier Tribunal Judge Scobbie dismissed the Appellant’s appeal by determination dated 17th January 2013. The Appellant was again found to be a witness lacking in credibility, having accepted in cross-examination that her claim to be an MDC supporter was a lie, and having given conflicting accounts.
3. The Grounds of Appeal to the Upper Tribunal are to the general effect that RT and RN require the appeal to be allowed.
4. On 8th March 2013 permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal was granted, on the view that there was an arguable issue as to whether the judge followed country guidance or gave valid reasons for not doing so.
5. It is convenient to set out here the current country guidance, which is CM (EM country guidance; disclosure) Zimbabwe CG [2013] UKUT 00059. The case was added to the country guidance list on 1st February 2013, after the date of the First-tier Tribunal determination and of the grounds (although prior to the grant of permission). It is headnoted as follows as follows:

(1) There is no general duty of disclosure on the Secretary of State in asylum appeals generally or Country Guidance cases in particular. The extent of the Secretary of State’s obligation is set out in R v SSHD ex p Kerrouche No 1 [1997] Imm AR 610, as explained in R (ota Cindo) v IAT [2002] EWHC 246 (Admin); namely, that she must not knowingly mislead a court or tribunal by omission of material that was known or ought to have been known to her.

(2) The Country Guidance given by the Tribunal in EM and Others (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG [2011] UKUT 98 (IAC) on the position in Zimbabwe as at the end of January 2011 was not vitiated in any respect by the use made of anonymous evidence from certain sources in the Secretary of State’s Fact Finding Mission report of 2010. The Tribunal was entitled to find that there had been a durable change since RN (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG [2008] UKAIT 00083. The Country Guidance in EM does not require to be amended, as regards the position at that time, in the light of-

(a) the disclosure by the Secretary of State of any of the materials subsequently disclosed in response to the orders of the Court of Appeal and related directions of the Tribunal in the current proceedings; or

(b) any fresh material adduced by the parties in those proceedings that might have a bearing on the position at that time.

(3) The only change to the EM Country Guidance that it is necessary to make as regards the position as at the end of January 2011 arises from the judgments in RT (Zimbabwe) [2012] UKSC 38. The EM Country Guidance is, accordingly, re-stated as follows (with the change underlined in paragraph (5) below):

(1)  As a general matter, there is significantly less politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe, compared with the situation considered by the AIT in RN.  In particular, the evidence does not show that, as a general matter, the return of a failed asylum seeker from the United Kingdom, having no significant MDC profile, would result in that person facing a real risk of having to demonstrate loyalty to the ZANU-PF.
(2) The position is, however, likely to be otherwise in the case of a person without ZANU-PF connections, returning from the United Kingdom after a significant absence to a rural area of Zimbabwe, other than Matabeleland North or Matabeleland South. Such a person may well find it difficult to avoid adverse attention, amounting to serious ill-treatment, from ZANU-PF authority figures and those they control.  The adverse attention may well involve a requirement to demonstrate loyalty to ZANU-PF, with the prospect of serious harm in the event of failure.  Persons who have shown themselves not to be favourably disposed to ZANU-PF are entitled to international protection, whether or not they could and would do whatever might be necessary to demonstrate such loyalty (RT (Zimbabwe)).
(3) The situation is not uniform across the relevant rural areas and there may be reasons why a particular individual, although at first sight appearing to fall within the category described in the preceding paragraph, in reality does not do so. For example, the evidence might disclose that, in the home village, ZANU-PF power structures or other means of coercion are weak or absent.
(4)  In general, a returnee from the United Kingdom to rural Matabeleland North or Matabeleland South is highly unlikely to face significant difficulty from ZANU-PF elements, including the security forces, even if the returnee is a MDC member or supporter. A person may, however, be able to show that his or her village or area is one that, unusually, is under the sway of a ZANU-PF chief, or the like.
(5) A returnee to Harare will in general face no significant difficulties, if going to a low-density or medium-density area. Whilst the socio-economic situation in high-density areas is more challenging, in general a person without ZANU-PF connections will not face significant problems there (including a “loyalty test”), unless he or she has a significant MDC profile, which might cause him or her to feature on a list of those targeted for harassment, or would otherwise engage in political activities likely to attract the adverse attention of ZANU-PF, or would be reasonably likely to engage in such activities, but for a fear of thereby coming to the adverse attention of ZANU-PF.
(6)  A returnee to Bulawayo will in general not suffer the adverse attention of ZANU-PF, including the security forces, even if he or she has a significant MDC profile.
(7)  The issue of what is a person’s home for the purposes of internal relocation is to be decided as a matter of fact and is not necessarily to be determined by reference to the place a person from Zimbabwe regards as his or her rural homeland. As a general matter, it is unlikely that a person with a well-founded fear of persecution in a major urban centre such as Harare will have a viable internal relocation alternative to a rural area in the Eastern provinces. Relocation to Matabeleland (including Bulawayo) may be negated by discrimination, where the returnee is Shona.
(8) Internal relocation from a rural area to Harare or (subject to what we have just said) Bulawayo is, in general, more realistic; but the socio-economic circumstances in which persons are reasonably likely to find themselves will need to be considered, in order to determine whether it would be unreasonable or unduly harsh to expect them to relocate.
(9) The economy of Zimbabwe has markedly improved since the period considered in RN. The replacement of the Zimbabwean currency by the US dollar and the South African rand has ended the recent hyperinflation. The availability of food and other goods in shops has likewise improved, as has the availability of utilities in Harare. Although these improvements are not being felt by everyone, with 15% of the population still requiring food aid, there has not been any deterioration in the humanitarian situation since late 2008. Zimbabwe has a large informal economy, ranging from street traders to home-based enterprises, which (depending on the circumstances) returnees may be expected to enter.
(10) As was the position in RN, those who are or have been teachers require to have their cases determined on the basis that this fact places them in an enhanced or heightened risk category, the significance of which will need to be assessed on an individual basis.
(11)  In certain cases, persons found to be seriously lacking in credibility may properly be found as a result to have failed to show a reasonable likelihood (a) that they would not, in fact, be regarded, on return, as aligned with ZANU-PF and/or (b) that they would be returning to a socio-economic milieu in which problems with ZANU-PF will arise. This important point was identified in RN … and remains valid.

(4) In the course of deciding CM’s appeal, the present Tribunal has made an assessment of certain general matters regarding Zimbabwe as at October 2012. As a result, the following country information may be of assistance to decision-makers and judges. It is, however, not Country Guidance within the scope of Practice Direction 12 and is based on evidence which neither party claimed to be comprehensive:

(a) The picture presented by the fresh evidence as to the general position of politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe as at October 2012 does not differ in any material respect from the Country Guidance in EM.

(b) Elections are due to be held in 2013; but it is unclear when.

(c) In the light of the evidence regarding the activities of Chipangano, judicial-fact finders may need to pay particular regard to whether a person, who is reasonably likely to go to Mbare or a neighbouring high density area of Harare, will come to the adverse attention of that group; in particular, if he or she is reasonably likely to have to find employment of a kind that Chipangano seeks to control or otherwise exploit for economic, rather than political, reasons.

(d) The fresh evidence regarding the position at the point of return does not indicate any increase in risk since the Country Guidance was given in HS (returning asylum seekers) Zimbabwe CG [2007] UKAIT 00094. On the contrary, the available evidence as to the treatment of those who have been returned to Harare Airport since 2007 and the absence of any reliable evidence of risk there means that there is no justification for extending the scope of who might be regarded by the CIO as an MDC activist.
6. Mrs Farrell submitted that the determination was wrong in its legal approach as matters were understood at the time of the hearing, and that on a correct application of RT and of RN she should have succeeded. However, she correctly accepted that if the decision were to be remade, then CM had to be followed, and in that light no real argument could be mounted for the appellant, given the findings on her individual circumstances.
7. I formally reserved my determination.
8. The FtT judge did consider RT and RN. He also looked at updated background information at paragraphs 38 and 39, which led him to conclude at paragraph 40 that the appellant would be of no interest to the authorities on return. No error of law is to be detected there. In any event, if the decision were to be remade the outcome would be the same, applying CM.
9. The determination of the First-tier Tribunal shall stand.
10. No order for anonymity has been requested or made.

5 June 2013
Upper Tribunal Judge Macleman