New country guidance been issued on Iraq and is, as with all country guidance cases, essential reading for persons with Iraqi clients. Cases concerning Iraqi and Afghani appellant make up the majority of asylum cases within the Tribunal and therefore, certainly for those practising in the legal aid field, this case will be essential reading in its entirety.
It’s been the case in the Tribunal of late that many appellant representatives have conceded that there has been a change of circumstances in Iraq and this country guidance recognises that change. The country guidance replaces the previous country guidance which includes but is not limited to AA (Article 15(c)) Iraq CG  UKUT 544 (IAC); BA (Returns to Baghdad) Iraq CG  UKUT 18 (IAC); and AAH (Iraqi Kurds – internal relocation) Iraq CG  UKUT 212 (IAC).
Where is your client from?
The new country guidance finds that civilians, generally, are not threatened by violence to the level which engages Article 15(c) of the Council Directive 2004/83/EC (the Qualification Directive). The level of violence varies quite dramatically between areas, and it is important as an immigration adviser that you identify the area that your client is from on a map of Iraq. The country guidance case indicates that civilians that might be returned to a small mountainous area north of Baiji in the Salah Al-Din region, which ISIL still controls would be at risk to a degree which meets the Article 15(c) threshold.
Risk factors under Article 3 and humanitarian claims
Although the area in which the Article 15(c) threshold is met is relatively small, the Tribunal does find that there may be a risk to others which could breach of Article 3 ECHR or could result in a grant of humanitarian protection. In particular, the Tribunal notes that there is considerable violence in other parts of Iraq, and certain characteristics could result in there being an Article 3 breach. For example, the Tribunal highlighted the following risk factors:
- Opposition to or criticism of the GOI, the KRG or local security actors; Membership of a national, ethnic or religious group which is either in the minority in the area in question, or not in de facto control of that area;
- LGBTI individuals, those not conforming to Islamic mores and wealthy or Westernised individuals;
- Humanitarian or medical staff and those associated with Western organisations or security forces;
- Women and children without genuine family support and Individuals with disabilities.
It was stated by the Tribunal that these factors, combined with an area which is generally unsafe, could result in an appellant having a valid Article 3 claim/ humanitarian protection claim.
What if an applicant doesn’t have CSID documents?
The Tribunal found once again that if an appellant was unable to obtain a CSID document or their replacement, an INID document, then this would result in a real risk of the appellant suffering treatment which would be contrary to Article 3 ECHR.
It might be possible for Iraqi nationals to obtain a replacement CSID card in the UK; however, this would depend on the documents available and the appellant knowing the volume and page reference of the entry in the family book in Iraq. The registration system is patrilineal, and therefore this information would need to be obtained through the father’s side of the family.
Immigration lawyers that stand by you
This country guidance represents a significant change in the Tribunal’s position on Iraq; however, we at Westkin Associates are prepared. We have a strong track record of working with clients from Iraq and have an expert legal team fluent in Arabic.