Refugees are protected by the principle of non-refoulement, which prevents them from being sent back to the country where they fear persecution. Non-refoulement, however, does not apply in circumstances where a person with refugee status poses a serious threat to society in the host country.
Two recent cases give examples of strategies employed by the Home Office to try and revoke the refugee protection of family members of a person with refugee status in the UK, and thereafter to try and deport them on the basis of them constituting a danger to the community.
In the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v KN (DRC)  EWCA Civ 1665, KN was granted refugee status as a dependent child of his father, who had escaped from DRC under the Mobutu regime. Throughout his adult life, KN had received multiple custodial sentences including a period of imprisonment for conspiracy to rob.
The Court of Appeal reviewed the interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Refugee Convention and the UK Immigration Rules and concluded that the Secretary of State was permitted to revoke the refugee status of the family member if the Home Office was able to prove that the individual satisfied a two-limb test. Firstly, the Home Office had to prove that the circumstances which had given rise to the sponsor’s refugee status had ceased to exist. Secondly, (if that was proved), the Home Office had also to demonstrate that there were no other circumstances which would make deportation incompatible with the Refugee Convention.
In the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v JS (Uganda)  EWCA Civ 1670, JS was granted refugee status as a dependent child of his mother, who had feared persecution in Uganda on account of her imputed political opinions. In 2013 JS was convicted and sentenced for an attempted rape and required to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.
The Court of Appeal ruled that someone granted refugee status through the Family Reunion Policy, and therefore not in their own right, was not protected by the Refugee Convention, because they themselves did not satisfy the definition of a refugee under article 1A(2). The Court stated that even if such a person were somehow to be regarded as protected by the Refugee Convention, the Secretary of State was entitled to decide that their status as a refugee “could and should” be treated as having ceased, because the circumstances which had given rise to the sponsor’s refugee status had ceased to exist. In this case, JS’ mother could no longer claim a well-founded fear of prosecution in Uganda.
These cases show that there are provisions in place for the Home Office to seek to take away refugee status and to deport family members of recognized refugees in circumstances of serious criminal conduct.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Paralegal in our General Immigration team