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Iranian asylum seekers win Home Office legal challenge

Published 05/08/2016

Mr Justice Green, sitting in London, said the Government must reconsider the case
Mr Justice Green, sitting in London, said the Government must reconsider the case

Two Iranians applying for asylum have won a legal challenge against Home Office decisions that it is "safe" for their applications to be dealt with in Hungary.

A High Court judge has ruled that there is "a significant risk" that Husain Ibrahimi and Mohamed Abasi could be in danger of finding themselves channelled back to Iran, where they fear persecution, through a chain of countries facing economic and social problems as a result of the turmoil caused by the mass movement of people fleeing strife in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa and heading for the EU.

In a decision which could affect many other asylum applicants, Mr Justice Green, sitting in London, said the Government must reconsider the case.

Mr Ibrahimi and Mr Abasi travelled to the UK via Hungary. One claimed he was wanted in Iran for suspected involvement in an anti-government demonstration, while the other contended he had a history of detention and ill-treatment by the authorities after converting to Christianity.

The Home Office immigration authorities decided in September and October 2015 that, under EU law, Hungary was "a safe third country" capable of handling their asylum applications, and there was insufficient evidence that there was a risk of them being sent back to Iran.

But the judge ruled the analysis of the international situation was "a long way out of date" and there was currently a significant risk.

He said this followed the introduction in Hungary, in August 2015, of "a highly accelerated and abbreviated asylum processing system" under pressure from the mass movement of migrants.

The judge said the EU Commission had started infringement proceedings against Hungary on the basis that its new asylum rules created a risk of "refoulement" - asylum applicants being returned to their alleged persecutors - contrary to EU and international law.

Both men argued if they were removed to Hungary they would, in due course, be channelled back to Iran via a "refoulement chain" including Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

The judge ruled there was such a risk. He said refugee agency the UNHCR and NGOs and other bodies, such as the European Parliament, had identified "systemic or operational risks" in the asylum and judicial systems of those countries.

The judge declared in a press note accompanying his formal judgment: "What is now required is a full-blown analysis of risks and safety such as has not to date been conducted if (the Home Secretary) is to justify removal of these claimants from this jurisdiction."

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