Court of Appeal ruling in two cases where the appellants could not rely on the Refugee Convention 1951


Re: Youssef & N2 v SSHD [2018] EWCA Civ 933

In these linked cases, the SSHD argued that each appellant was properly excluded from reliance on (and the benefit of) the United Nations Refugee Convention 1951, as their differing activities were sufficient to satisfy the test in art 1F(c) that each had “been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations”.

LJ Irwin giving the lead judgment, pointed out that there was a high threshold to meet before art 1F(c) was triggered. Indeed, “it is obviously right, for the reasons given by the Supreme Court in Al-Sirri, that careful consideration is given to the gravity or impact of any acts relied on. This is the answer to the appellant’s arguments as to the vital importance of protection of refugees, and that such protection should not be lost for “mere speech”.  Freedom of speech is a qualified right under the United Nations’ Convention, as under the ECHR or the European Charter”. In Youssef’s case the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) had dealt fully and correctly with the argument that crimes must be proved but had not clearly demonstrated that they considered the “gravity or seriousness” of Youssef’s conduct and on this ground alone, Youssef’s appeal was allowed.

As per N2, it was argued that “SIAC had erred when decided that the Appellant was guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations [within the meaning of art 1F(c)] despite the absence of a completed, or attempted, terrorist act”. The gravity or seriousness of the appellant’s acts or their international impact were not a matter for argument in this appeal. LJ Irwin rejected this argument and dismissed N2’s appeal.

Danny Friedman QC was involved in this case.