Application no. 28242/02
against the United Kingdom
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 2 September 2003 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr M. Pellonpää, President,
Sir Nicolas Bratza,
Mr M. Fischbach,
Mr J. Casadevall,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr J. Borrego Borrego,
Mrs E. Fura-Sandström, judges,
and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 18 July 2002,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, is a Ugandan national, who was born in 1956 and is currently in the United Kingdom. She was represented before the Court by solicitors Birnberg Peirce & Partners in London. The respondent Government were represented by Ms Helen Upton and Mr John Evans, of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
The applicant entered the United Kingdom on 20 December 2000 and claimed asylum on 31 January 2001. She alleged that soldiers of the Ugandan army had come to her shop, where they had beaten her son almost unconscious as a suspected collaborator with the rebel army, Allied Democratic Forces (“the ADF”). He had then been arrested and not heard from since. Documents seized from the shop allegedly showed that the applicant had been conducting business with the ADF. She had then fled to Kampala, where she had been staying for three months until being able to leave the country with the help of an agent. She feared returning to Uganda as a suspected rebel supporter or as the mother of a suspected rebel.
The applicant later alleged that she had been raped by two soldiers while others had been searching her shop. She was diagnosed as suffering from rape trauma syndrome. A rape counsellor expressed grave concerns for her emotional well-being and physical safety in Uganda. Another medical certificate indicated that she was showing signs of depression and bereavement. She had not alleged in the screening interview that she had been raped but later explained that she had not wished to recount that to the immigration officer. The incidence of rape of women by Ugandan soldiers was allegedly extremely high in parts of the country, including the area in which the applicant’s shop and home were situated.
The asylum request was refused by the Home Secretary on 6 February 2001. He considered, inter alia, that since the ADF was a criminal organisation carrying out atrocities the Ugandan authorities had a legitimate interest in curbing its activities. At any rate, the fact that the applicant had not been arrested together with her son meant that she was of no interest to the authorities. The Secretary further noted in this respect that, according to her statement at the initial screening interview, she had been able to leave Uganda using her own passport but had handed it over to her agent once she had secured entry to the United Kingdom.
In appealing against the refusal the applicant stated, inter alia, that she had not entered the United Kingdom on her own passport but on a falsified one. On 24 August 2001 her appeal was refused by the Immigration Adjudicator after a hearing. The adjudicator essentially accepted the applicant’s statement of the events in Uganda and the fact that Ugandan soldiers were guilty of a pattern of human rights violations, involving numerous rapes. She did not however find any objectively well-founded fear of ill-treatment on the applicant’s return as her rape had not been politically motivated and it was unlikely that she would be re-arrested. If she had been of any interest to the army as a suspected ADF supporter, she would have been arrested together with her son.
On 16 October 2001 the applicant was denied leave to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal which found that the rape had been extraneous to the soldiers’ political or military activities and that there was no real risk of ill-treatment or other violation of the Convention should the applicant be returned to Uganda.
On 15 April 2002 Mr. Justice Sullivan in the High Court refused the applicant leave to appeal, considering that it had been open to the adjudicator to conclude that the applicant was of no interest to the Ugandan authorities in their fight against the ADF.
On 15 July 2002 Lord Justice Latham in the Court of Appeal denied the applicant leave to appeal.
The applicant complained that her removal to Uganda would violate Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention by exposing her to a real risk of ill-treatment and a violation of her right to respect for her private life, including her right to moral and physical integrity, as well as of her right to respect for her home. Her return would be likely to have consequences on her mental health, considering the nature of her past ill-treatment. In denying her asylum claim the United Kingdom authorities wrongly concluded that her rape had not been politically motivated.
Under Article 37 § 1 of the Convention the Court may at any stage of the proceedings decide to strike an application out of its list of cases inter alia where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that the matter has been resolved. However, the Court shall continue the examination of the application if respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto so requires.
By letter of 14 May 2003 the Agent for the Government informed the Court that in April 2003 the applicant had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. The Government therefore considered that the application should be struck out of the Court’s list as the matter had been resolved.
By letter of 9 July 2003 counsel for the applicant confirmed her agreement to the case being struck out.
The Court is satisfied that the matter has been resolved within the meaning of Article 37 § 1 (b) of the Convention and that the solution reached between the parties is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols (Article 37 § 1 in fine).
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Michael O’Boyle Matti Pellonpää
R.N. v. THE UNITED KINGDOM DECISION
R.N. v. THE UNITED KINGDOM DECISION