Switzerland – Federal Administrative Tribunal rules in a case concerning a Sri Lankan refugee sur place

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

On 13 November, the Federal Administrative Tribunal (TAF) of Switzerland delivered a judgment concerning the appeal of a Sri Lankan national, of Tamil ethnicity, against a decision by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) that refused to grant him international protection.

The applicant claimed his life would be in danger, if he returned back to his home country due to previous political engagement with a Tamil militant organisation. The applicant’s claim was dismissed as the SEM found that there was no substantial risk as, inter alia, the applicant had been acquitted of any militant-related charges by the domestic courts. Moreover, the applicant’s political activities in Switzerland were too isolated to lead to the conclusion that he had drawn the attention of the Sri Lankan authorities.

On appeal, the TAF concurred with the SEM’s finding that the applicant’s statements regarding the flight from his country cannot be considered plausible, due to contradictions in essential parts of the story. It stated, however, that the political profile that he had acquired due to the connection of his name with the group, would still be able to expose him to risk if he returned back to Sri Lanka, even if the domestic judicial system had acquitted him.

In this context, the Tribunal confirmed the existence of several low-risk factors, which alone and taken separately do not appear to be decisive, but whose accumulation is likely to increase the danger for nationals to be interrogated and controlled on their return to Sri Lanka, or even to establish in some cases a real fear of future decisive persecution in asylum matters. In addition, the applicant’s activities in Switzerland constitute an additional risk of fearing persecution upon return, as he was photographed in two pro-Tamil demonstrations.

Therefore, the Tribunal found that the accumulation of different risk factors prior to departure and the subjective reasons after the escape, assessed together, are sufficient to establish an objective fear of serious harm in the event of a return. The Tribunal annulled in part the SEM’s decision and ordered the recognition of the appellant as a refugee.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.


This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                                                




Assessment of facts and circumstances
Credibility assessment
Real risk
Refugee sur place