MA (Risk, IFA, Chechen Moscow) Russia [2001] UKIAT 00006 (03 January 2002)

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Cite as: [2001] UKIAT 6, [2001] UKIAT 00006

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    MA (Risk - IFA - Chechen –Moscow) Russia [2001] UKIAT 00006


    Date of hearing: 11 December 2001

    Date Determination notified: 03 January 2002


    John Freeman (Chair)
    Mrs J Harris



    Secretary of State for the Home Department RESPONDENT

    Representation;Ms EA Storey (Refugee Legal Centre) for the appellant. Mr C Trent for the respondent


  1. This is an appeal, with leave, from a decision of an adjudicator (Mr BM Suchak), sitting at Swan St on 23 August, dismissing an asylum and human rights appeal by a Chechen citizen of the Russian Federation, from directions for removal as an illegal entrant on 9 February. Leave was given on the basis of two credibility points. Whatever the merits or otherwise of those, we have to say that we think the adjudicator was justified in his general view of the appellant's credibility. He managed to contradict himself, as between his screening (Dublin Convention) interview and his witness statement as to which country he had left Chechnya for (and been caught on the border of): first it was Ossetia, then Ingushetia. His only explanation for that is that Russian, in which he was both interviewed and gave his witness statement, is not his first language. It is nevertheless the language of education, government and other business in Chechnya: clearly the appellant spoke it well enough when he gave his statement for some explanation to be required of him. What he said was that he had been doing a lot of reading in Russian; so his Russian had got better while he was here. He claims there were mistakes in his interview record; but neither he then nor Ms Storey now have been able to point to any. We do not accept that his spoken Russian could have improved so much in the way he suggested; and we reject any suggestion that he did not realize exactly what he was saying at any stage, and in particular the names of the countries he gave.
  2. The point in the appellant's case which seriously concerns us did not appear in it till a very late stage, in fact in the course of Ms Storey's reply to Mr Trent. She referred us then for the first time to a passage in the Human Rights Watch report for 2000 (p 4 of the printout supplied), beginning "Chechens in Moscow faced very serious abuses in the aftermath of the bombings of two Moscow apartment buildings in September 1999". The importance of this is that the removal directions given were "... by scheduled airline to RUSSIA". Neither we nor Mr Trent, to whom of course we gave the chance to reply on this point, knew of any scheduled airline services to any Russian city other than Moscow or Petersburg. It is common ground that the residence permit provisions would not allow the appellant to live lawfully in Moscow, or Petersburg. Mr Trent suggested that he could apply for the necessary permit; but the evidence to which we have referred does not suggest that any such application would be likely to succeed. Mr Trent expressly conceded that this appellant as a Chechen might have a Convention fear in Moscow: there were further incidents in August 2000; and though the sinking of the 'Kursk' brought them to an end, the known involvement of Chechens in the fighting in Afghanistan cannot have made their fellow-countrymen's position any easier in Moscow.
  3. Mr Trent drew the analogy with Iraqi Kurds at risk in Baghdad, but not in the Kurdish Autonomous Area. However there is no undertaking not to remove this appellant to Moscow, which as the capital must be assumed to be the ordinary destination of a removal to the Russian Federation; and it is hard to see (in contrast to the position with Iraqi Kurdistan) how there could be any practical arrangements for removal direct to Chechnya. We are not satisfied on the evidence before us that the appellant could be safely returned to Moscow, without some assurance by the Russian authorities that Chechens without papers to live there would be allowed to go on their way home. (What would happen then raises a number of other questions, with which we are not concerned as things stand). If such an assurance, or other evidence on their safety in Moscow or in transit can be obtained, then the position may well be different in future cases.
  4. Appeal allowed

    John Freeman

    © Crown Copyright

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