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United Kingdom Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
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Cite as:  UKIAT 1166,  UKIAT 01166
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MT (Risk, Return, GIA) Algeria  UKIAT 01166
Date of hearing: 11 March 2002
Date Determination notified: 18 April 2002
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
1. The appellant is a citizen of Algeria who has been granted leave to appeal to the Tribunal against the determination of an Adjudicator, Mr Malcolm Rothwell, who dismissed his appeal against the respondent's decision refusing to grant leave to enter and refusing asylum.
2. The hearing before us took place on 11 March 2002. Mr L Alara for Dozie & Co. Solicitors appeared on behalf of the appellant, and Mr N Banks of the Home Office Presenting Officer's Unit appeared on behalf of the respondent.
3. Mr Alara relied upon his skeleton argument. He said that he would make no further submissions otherwise except in response to the points made by Mr Banks.
4. Mr Banks put in the decisions in Saidi and Bensaid. Relying on the former, the Tribunal should find there was a sufficiency of protection in Algeria, and reference was made in particular to paragraphs 129, 130 and 133. The influence of the GIA was significantly diminished and there had been an amnesty. There was a sufficiency of protection within the major urban centres. Reference was also made to the CIPU Report at paragraph 3.53 and at A5, A6 and B13. Such extremists as were left had been forced into the rural areas. It would therefore not be necessary for the appellant to exercise an internal flight alternative, but it would be available and in fact he had exercised it. Reference was made to question 6 at A4 and question 14 B5 and question 21 at B6 and the answers. They all went to support the Adjudicator's conclusions at paragraphs 4.11 and 4.12. The appellant's fear such as it was, was linked to a particular employment which he no longer held. It was most unlikely that the GIA would have a continuing interest in him and they would not impute a political opinion to him. He had simply not done what they wanted and there was no Convention reason, as the Adjudicator had found.
5. As regards the recommendation made by the Adjudicator, it was argued that the medical report was somewhat inconclusive. The appellant was not receiving prescribed medicine but taking a product passed on to him by a friend and it was unclear that he had on-going treatment needs. Hence the relevance of Bensaid, and the Tribunal was in particular referred to paragraph 36. That was the same drug as had been prescribed in this case, and the appellant in Bensaid was taking that course of medicine which the appellant was not. In any event the European Court of Human Rights had said there would not be a breach of Article 3 or Article 8 to return that appellant to Algeria. Treatment would be available there. It was speculation as to whether his condition might worsen, and the Tribunal was again referred to Bensaid, at paragraph 39. There was no evidence sufficient for a grant of leave to remain on that basis.
6. In his submissions Mr Alara took us to pages 13 – 15 of the bundle, the medical report, and also made the point that the appellant had an appointment to see a consultant, and a letter concerning this was put in.
7. He also made the point that the date of Saidi was 24 January 2001 and that today's case had been heard by the Adjudicator subsequent to that. In the light of the medical report and the recommendation by the Adjudicator one would expect the Adjudicator to have allowed the appeal under paragraph 21 of Schedule 4 of the 1999 Act.
8. The Tribunal was referred to paragraph 5.3 of the determination concerning the Ireland case, and it was not the case that a value judgement as to the circumstances of the case and the effect on the particular victim had been considered in this particular case. The Adjudicator had accepted that the appellant was wholly credible and that he had been persecuted. At paragraph 4.11 he accepted that although the issue of terrorism was largely outside the cities, the group the appellant feared had caused problems in that part of Algiers and in the cities. The fear was accordingly well founded.
9. It was the case that the appellant had an imputed political opinion. The Tribunal was referred to the discussion of Noune and Adan in the grounds of appeal. Although there had been a number of people who had surrendered themselves as part of the amnesty, at the same time the so called GIA had never accepted the ceasefire or dialogue. The splinter group was the GSPC who maintained a power base in the cities.
10. The Tribunal was referred again to the medical report on the history of the appellant and he had had this illness for some time and his fear was very real. No one knew how long it would take for him to heal. Proper account had not been taken of the medical evidence by the Adjudicator. Even the consultant could not say how long his illness would last. Faced with the same situation from which he had run away, he was likely to be worse. The appeal should be allowed.
11. We stated that we would reserve our determination.
12. The Adjudicator made a favourable credibility finding in the appellant's favour, finding his evidence to be generally consistent with the background evidence in material respects. More specifically at paragraph 4.5 of his determination, he found that the appellant became a security guard at Kouba Hospital in Algiers and subsequently became the head of security in 1998. Subsequent to that appointment he was targeted by the GIA terrorist group for medical supplies and later for weapons. He did this for some time, however at some time in 1999 he first refused to give them access to hospital equipment. He continued to provide supplies but stopped short of providing the weapons they demanded. At a time around the end of 1999 or the beginning of 2000, someone came to the hospital and demanded access to the pharmacy, and at that point he decided to report this to his director who contacted the police. He claims that they said that they could not protect him because they were in fear of the terrorists themselves.
13. The Adjudicator also found, at paragraph 4.6 of his determination, that the appellant had spent at least four months living outside Algiers after he decided to flee from the pressure of the terrorists. It seems that this was from March or April 2000. He spent some four months in Bechar, at which time he was treated at a military hospital for depression, and thereafter returned to Algiers for some two months, to a hotel room from which he left Algeria and came to the United Kingdom via France. He left Algeria on 5 January 2001 and arrived in the United Kingdom on 12 January 2001.
14. The Adjudicator also considered a psychiatric report provided by a Dr Pierides, and concluded that it was reasonably likely that the appellant was suffering from mental illness and continued so to suffer, largely from depression and anxiety. He accepted the doctor's view that the appellant was a suicide risk and would have little to live for if his application for asylum was refused, but did not accept the medical opinion that he was suffering from PTSD.
15. As a consequence the Adjudicator found that the appellant did suffer very strong pressure from terrorists who he said were the GIA, directly because of his position of responsibility at the hospital. This caused him to flee Algiers and receive medical treatment on account of the stress resulting from this pressure. He found that this was a sufficient degree of pressure to amount to persecution by non-state agents, but concluded that there was no Convention reason in this case since he found that the appellant was targeted by the GIA because of work and not because of any imputed political opinion, and that the objective was criminal and not political. The Adjudicator also noted that there was no evidence that there was any effort to carry out alleged threats made by the GIA against the appellant's family during the period of several months between the making of those threats and his leaving Algeria. The Adjudicator regarded this failure to act as inconsistent with the objective evidence concerning the harsh and pitiless nature of the GIA and its offshoot the GSPC. The Adjudicator also found that there was nothing in the objective evidence to support the appellant's claim that he was at risk from the security forces themselves, noting that the authorities did not take action against him for suspected complicity when he reported to them, and that there was no objective evidence that the authorities did take any such action against terrorist targets.
16. On his consideration of the objective evidence, the Adjudicator concluded that there was a reasonable likelihood that the GIA would not be in a position to carry out its threats against the appellant, but noted that some networks still exist in Algiers and Constantine and the splinter group of the GIA, the GSPC, is largely active in western Algeria and that there was some support for continuing terrorist activity which could have targeted the appellant, even if to a limited extent, in Algiers.
17. The point concerning fear from the authorities was not pursued before us, and we see no merit to it. We consider that the Adjudicator was right to conclude as he did that the appellant did not have a well founded fear of persecution or indeed of any harm from the authorities. There is no evidence to sustain that contention.
18. On the question of a Convention reason, we think there is sufficient force in the matters set out in the grounds of appeal in this regard as to make it arguable that an imputed political opinion could exist in this case in the refusal of the appellant to provide material as demanded by the GIA to them.
19. However we do not agree with the arguments put before us by Mr Alara concerning the risk on return, even if it is accepted the appellant has in the past been persecuted for a Convention reason by the GIA. We note from the CIPU Report for October 2001 at paragraph 3.53 that though the killings by armed groups continued in rural areas, main cities were generally secure, though there is mention of a bomb exploding in Algiers wounding 34 people. At A5 there is mention of the amnesty, which led some 4,500 persons, mainly from the GIA and the GSPC, to surrender under the terms of the Civil Harmony Law. There is mention of random targeting of civilians by terrorists and the fact that the violence takes place primarily in the countryside and smaller towns as the security forces have largely forced the insurgents out of the cities. This part is reinforced at B13 where it is also said that it is essentially rural terrorism that is taking place except in the strong-holds of the armed groups. It is said that the situation in Algiers and Constantine is very calm, although some networks still exist. We agree with Mr Banks, who made the point that the appellant, who is no longer in a position to assist the GIA, having left his employment, would not be a person who would be at risk of being targeted. It is not without relevance that the claimed threats to his family were never carried out, and we note also that the appellant was able to return to Algiers for a period. It is worth nothing that in reply to question 21 he said that when he returned to Algiers he stayed in the centre of the capital which is a safe area and far from his neighbourhood. When it was put to him that if it was a safe area he could have stayed there, he said that he could not afford to live there financially. In our view, on a proper assessment of the objective evidence, the appellant does not face a real risk of persecution on return to Algeria. Even if he did, on his past history he was able to relocate without problems to Bechar, but we consider that in any event he could return to Algiers or live in any of the other cities without any real risk of persecution. The level of risk that exists in our view, on a proper assessment of the objective evidence, is so slight as not to amount to a real risk of persecution for this appellant with his particular history.
20. The Adjudicator considered the medical evidence in assessing the human rights issues in this case. He made a recommendation in the light of the psychiatric evidence that the appellant be not removed until the Secretary of State was satisfied that he had recovered from his mental condition sufficiently to allow his safe return to Algeria. As Mr Alara pointed out, even specialists were unable to given any indication as to when that might be. Mr Banks made the point that the appellant did not appear to have any on going treatment needs, in light of the fact that he had found it difficult to take Olanzapine and had been using medication taken on the advice of friends. Dr Pierides said as a consequence he had not prescribed any further medication for him and told him to see his new GP as soon as possible. The only other medical evidence is that he has an appointment in May to see a consultant psychiatrist.
21. In Bensaid the court examined carefully the evidence concerning the applicant in that case who was suffering from schizophrenia and who was in fact receiving Olanzapine as part of his medication. If he returned to Algeria this drug would no longer be available to him for he is an outpatient and he was not enrolled in any social insurance fund and could not claim any reimbursement. The drug would be available to him if admitted as an inpatient and would be potentially available on payment as an outpatient. The court accepted the seriousness of his medical condition, but at paragraph 40, having due regard to the high threshold set by Article 3, particularly where the case does not concern the direct responsibility of the Contracting State for the infliction of harm, the court did not find that there was a sufficiently real risk that the appellant's removal in those circumstances would be contrary to the standards of Article 3.
22. The Tribunal considers that reasoning can be equally applied to the situation of the appellant before us. Clearly he has mental health problems, but the Tribunal considers that the reasoning set out in Bensaid is equally applicable to his case, and that as a consequence there would be no real risk of a breach of his Article 3 rights on return to Algeria.
23. This appeal is dismissed.
D K Allen