Copts of Sudan – Outweighing the Public Interest

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
27 September 2016

We acted for two appellants who are Coptic citizens of Sudan. They made an application to remain in the UK under the rules and on the basis of the Human Rights Act, namely Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Home Office refused this application, rendering both husband and wife liable to removal from the UK. At the appeal hearing both the appellants were represented by Mr Eric Fripp, instructed by our firm, and although the first appellant was present at the hearing, she was not competent to give evidence.

The Home Office argument was that the appellant could remain living with her husband, who is the primary carer for her on a day-to-day basis, and that the appellants have assets sufficient for them to obtain the best medical attention in Sudan, and there is no evidence that they could not travel. We highlighted via skeleton argument that the husband has not been living in Sudan for 35 years and it was apparent that the first appellant requires 24 hour care with the help of her daughters.

In a Human Rights appeal it is for the appellant to show that there has been interference with his or her human rights. If that is established and the relevant articles permit, it is then for the Home Office to establish that the interference was justified. The Immigration Judge accepted the evidence of the parents’ daughters who have appropriately summarised the difficulties the family would face if asked to return to Sudan. The prospect of returning to Sudan and being supported by another relative was not a viable option. The Judge accepted our submissions that either in the short or long term removal of the appellants from the United Kingdom would cause unjustified damage to the private and family life of the appellants and therefore would be disproportionate and not in the public interest. Therefore, the appeal was allowed under the immigration Rules and the Human Rights Act.

The interesting point about this is that the Immigration Judge found that the appellants have established that they are entitled for leave to remain in the UK under paragraph 276 ADE(2)(vi) on the basis that each has lived in the UK for less than 20 years, and that there would be very significant obstacles to reintegration in Sudan, in essence due to mutual inter-dependence with the other appellant, their age, their poor health, and that includes their unfitness to fly or to be removed. Their long-term absence from Sudan and the loss of direct support by family members, plus the potential isolation and discrimination as members of the Coptic Christian minority in Sudan, were additional factors.

The Immigration Judge also considered our submissions under Article 8 outside the Immigration Rules, and he has weighed the need of the Government to control immigration, and the needs of the appellants, taking into account all the material factors. He found that when considering all the facts to refuse the application to remain in the UK and to require them to leave the UK would be so disproportionate as to breach their rights under Article 8.