UK: Supreme Court rejects the placement of Jamaica on the list of safe countries for asylum claims

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Supreme Court case relates to the question of whether the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) is entitled by domestic legislation (Section 94(5)) to place Jamaica as a State which, in general, does not present any serious risk of persecution to those entitled to reside within it.  This question is framed against the factual background that there is a serious risk of persecution to LGBTI persons in Jamaica, who amount to between 5-10% of the population, but no risk affecting the remainder of the population.

Refusing to accede to the submissions of the SSHD the Supreme Court surmised that to interpret Section 94(5) as meaning that "there is no serious risk of persecution of persons in general” would allow the designation of a State “which systematically carries out or tolerates persecution provided that it is limited so as not to affect the large majority.” According to the Court this would go against the definition of persecution in the Refugee Convention, directed towards minorities and would establish a yardstick whereby the relevant minority would have to exceed a certain percentage.  According to the Court this would be highly subjective and unreliable. Moreover and very importantly, the Court highlighted that where a State is designated under Section 94(5) the applicant will normally be detained and fast track (as occurred in the facts of the present case) and thus the designation of a state "changes the complexion of the analysis of the claim."

The Supreme Court, rejecting the Home Office’s argumentation to keep Jamaica on the Section 94(5) list, subsequently dismissed the appeal of the Home Secretary.

13 March 2015
This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. 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, the IRC or its partners.



Country of origin
Membership of a particular social group
Persecution Grounds/Reasons
Safe third country