February 23, 2010

III. Background

Since March 2007 the Home Office has processed all asylum claims in the UK under the New Asylum Model (NAM), which was first laid out in the Home Office’s five-year immigration strategy, “Controlling our borders: Making migration work for Britain,” published in 2005.[1] The stated aim of this strategy is to introduce a faster, more tightly managed asylum process, with an emphasis on greater control of the whereabouts of asylum seekers and rapid and increased numbers of removals from the UK. An important part of the NAM is the procedure known as Detained Fast Track (DFT).

As described in the summary, DFT is inherently unsuitable for assessing complex cases—and the cases of both men and women can be complex. Indeed, more men than women are referred into the procedure. However, this report focuses on the suitability of DFT for processing claims by women because claims that involve gender-related issues can be particularly complex, especially when they involve persecution by private individuals and the state’s failure to provide adequate protection, and assessing them fairly can involve significant practical challenges.

The Standard Asylum Procedure

A person may claim asylum in the UK either on arrival at the port of entry, or at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) office in Croydon.[2] The first interview, known as the “screening interview,” aims to establish the identity of the asylum seeker, their route into the UK, liability to return to a third country (under the so-called “Dublin II Regulation”), whether or not they should be detained, and their suitability for the fast track procedure.[3] The interview’s purpose is not to establish the potential validity of the claim, but to elicit basic information about the asylum seeker. At this stage the UKBA does not ask detailed questions about why an applicant claimant is seeking asylum.[4]

If the applicant is routed through the standard procedure (exceptions, including persons routed into DFT, are discussed below), the UKBA will give them an appointment at a later date to return to the Home Office. The applicant is given the details of a Home Office official responsible for processing an application for asylum from the beginning to end, known as the case owner, and is not usually placed in detention at this stage.[5]

On the appointed date, the case owner conducts a more elaborate “asylum interview” which addresses the reasons for claiming asylum. According to information given by UKBA to asylum-seekers, “The full interview is your only chance to tell us why you fear return to your country.”[6] The case owner will give the applicant a list of legal representatives, but it is the responsibility of the asylum seeker to contact the legal representative and arrange for them to be at the interview. The legal representative has five days after the interview (which can be taped) to submit new evidence to the case owner.[7]

To be recognized as a refugee in the UK, an applicant must prove that they meet the criteria laid down in the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (the Refugee Convention), to which the UK is a party.[8] A refugee is defined as someone who:[9]

  1. Has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion;
  2. Is outside his or her country of nationality;
  3. Is unable to avail himself or herself of the protection of his or her country of nationality or habitual residence, or to return there, for fear of persecution.

There are three possible outcomes of an asylum claim:  the applicant may be recognized as a refugee and given five years limited leave to remain in the UK, they may be granted an alternative form of protection, or their claim may be refused.

If no Refugee Convention reason can be identified, UKBA decision makers or Asylum and Immigration Tribunal judges must consider whether the return of the applicant would breach her human rights, and if so consider subsidiary protection,[10] either through humanitarian protection or “discretionary leave”.[11] This is however, is explicitly “intended to be used sparingly.”[12] To qualify for humanitarian protection, the applicant has to show that they meet the criteria laid down in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms incorporated into UK domestic law through the 1998 Human Rights Act.[13]

If a claim is refused, the applicant will receive a “refusal letter”, setting out the reasons for refusal. An applicant then has the right to appeal against the initial decision by the case owner within two weeks of receipt of the refusal letter and before the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.[14]

After refusal at appeal, the claimant can ask for a reconsideration hearing. An immigration judge will look at the case and grant reconsideration if the Tribunal may have made an error of law and there is a real possibility that the Tribunal would decide the appeal differently on reconsideration.[15] If the immigration judge considers the above criteria are met, he will order a reconsideration of the case. This means a new judge decides whether in fact a material error of law was made, and if so, a fresh appeal has to take place.[16]

As the final possibility for scrutiny of UKBA’s decisions, the High Court has the power to review immigration and asylum decisions by judicial review. An asylum seeker who was rejected throughout the process and is given an order to be removed can ask for a review of the process. Judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision was made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.[17] Again, there is first a judgment on whether a judicial review should be granted, and if so, a ruling on whether UKBA needs to reconsider their initial decision.[18]

If this is refused, UKBA will remove the applicant if they fail to leave the UK voluntarily. In 2006 the Home Office set a target for numbers of removals (male and female), “3,500 removals per month by April 2009.”[19] In the third quarter of 2009, 17,055 persons were removed or departed voluntarily from the UK, on average 5,685 per month including people who were turned away at the border and who left voluntarily.

Exceptions

There are certain categories of applicant whose claims are dealt with differently:

  1. Minors: under 18 year olds—both unaccompanied children and children from families who apply in their own right—are accommodated by social services. Some children may require a social services assessment to confirm their age and until a social services age assessment has taken place, an age disputed young person is dealt with as an adult. Once age has been determined, their cases are processed by case owners who have been specially trained to deal with children.[20]
  2. Third Country Cases:  under the European “Dublin II regulation,” asylum applicants must pursue their claims in the country they first set foot in Europe.[21] While in the UK, these applicants are held in detention before being removed to such country.[22]
  3. Possible “Non-Suspensive Appeal” cases: claims considered “clearly unfounded” by UKBA, based on a list of countries UKBA considers “safe”.[23] Once their claims have been rejected, asylum seekers defined as non-suspensive appeal cases can only appeal from outside the UK after removal. Most are kept in detention at the Oakington Immigration Removal Centre near Cambridge until they are removed.[24]
  4. Detained Fast Track Procedure: where it appears, after screening, that a case is one that can be decided “quickly”, any asylum claim, whatever the nationality or country of origin of the claimant, may be fast-tracked. This is the procedure examined by Human Rights Watch in this report.

Detention

According to Phil Woolas, UK Minister for Borders and Immigration, speaking in parliament in June 2008:

Detention is an essential part of the Government’s commitment to operate a “firm but fair” immigration and asylum policy by assisting us to remove those who do not qualify for leave to remain here and who refuse to leave the UK voluntarily or who would otherwise abscond.[25]

The power to detain immigrants was first included in the Immigration Act 1971, which allowed the detention of asylum seekers in detention centers or prisons.[26] Immigration officers, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, were granted the power to detain asylum seekers at any stage of the asylum procedure.[27] Several immigration acts subsequently affirmed and elaborated on the use of immigration detention, including the detention of fast track cases.[28] Non-statutory guidance notes, such as the UK Border Agency Instruction and Guidance on Detention and Temporary Release, further developed these powers.[29] There is no statutory limit on the length of detention of immigrants in the UK in any of these acts.

In May 2008 UKBA announced a large-scale expansion of immigration removal centers, including a new center to process detained fast track cases, increasing capacity by up to 60 percent, adding that “[a] new centre will allow even more fast track cases to be heard.”[30] In March 2009 the newest center was opened, providing capacity to hold an additional 426 male detainees, leading to a total of eleven immigration removal centers providing 3,000 beds for people throughout the asylum system, including for persons routed into the detained fast track procedure.[31]

Women Seeking Asylum in the UK

In 2008, 7,390 women applied for asylum as principal applicants—approximately 30 percent of all principal applicants. That same year 2,875 women applied as dependents of other family members—about 54 percent of all dependent applicants.[32]

In 2008, 31 percent of female principal applicants were granted asylum or discretionary leave at first instance by the Home Office.[33] There is no gender segregated data available for the appeal stage, but 23 percent of appeals by both men and women against refusal of refugee status were successful in 2008.[34] The figures appear to have remained similar in the first half 2009 (the latest figures available at time of writing), with 29 percent of all asylum applications decided in the UK granted asylum at the initial stage.[35]

Grounds and Gender

A woman who needs protection and recognition as a refugee must establish under the Refugee Convention that she has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group in her country of nationality.[36] Gender is not an explicit ground for asylum under the Refugee Convention, but it is an established principle that the definition of ‘refugee’ should be interpreted to include the gender dimensions of persecution in order to accurately determine claims to refugee status. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Guidelines on International Protection make clear assessment of grounds should include the gender dimension of persecution.[37]

The fact that gender is not specifically a ground under the Refugee Convention renders many women’s cases by definition technically complex. Women may experience persecution differently from men and be exposed to different forms of it. Assessing the implications and consequences of gender therefore requires additional information about the threats and forms of persecution experienced by a woman in her country of nationality. Furthermore, many women claim to be subject to persecution and forms of harm not directly inflicted by the state,[38] and for which they should—but frequently do not—receive adequate or any state protection.  

There is currently no publicly available official breakdown of the reasons why women seek asylum in the UK, but organizations and solicitors working with women report issues behind claims to include trafficking for sexual or labor exploitation, forced marriage, violence within the family, forced sterilization, and sexual violence. Women have also claimed persecution based on gender-specific cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and the threat of “honor” killings.[39]

Organizations that provide services to refugee women have estimated that more than half of all women seeking asylum in the UK are victims of sexual violence, and some have estimated that figure to be as high as 80 percent.[40] There is a particular stigma attached to rape and some survivors may experience overwhelming feelings of self-loathing and embarrassment. While victims of other crimes may anticipate and receive care and sympathy from loved ones, many rape survivors fear they will not be believed even by those closest to them. They may be met with hostile, even violent responses.[41] Indeed, those closest to a rape survivor may be responsible for the abuse in the first place. For these reasons, UNHCR recommends that “in procedures for the determination of refugee status, asylum seekers who may have suffered sexual violence be treated with particular sensitivity.”[42] 

The UKBA published an Asylum Policy Instruction on Gender Issues in Asylum Claims (gender guidelines) in 2004, revised in 2006, which sought to improve the gender sensitivity of the UK asylum process at first instance.[43] This is a comprehensive document with several important safeguards for women in the asylum process, including a confirmation that “Although gender is not listed as a convention reason under the 1951 Convention decision-makers should be aware of gender issues in their assessment of asylum claims.”[44] The gender guidelines also include an explanation of many of the forms of persecution and violence that women might go through and base their asylum claim on.[45]

However, despite these UKBA gender guidelines, Human Rights Watch and others’ evidence points to a regular failure by UKBA decision makers to take women’s experiences into account when interpreting refugee law and when deciding on return.[46] A 2006 study found a lack of implementation of the gender guidelines, stating that while a few good examples were found, the overwhelming impression was one of a lack of awareness of gender issues and that the UKBA’s own guidance was not being followed by decision-makers.[47]

There is also a gap at the level of judges, who do not have gender-focused guidelines. The UK’s Immigration Appellate Authority, the forerunner of today’s Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT), initially developed gender guidelines for immigration judges ruling on appeals and judicial reviews in asylum cases. These seemed to be taken over by the new AIT. However, in September 2006 the AIT announced that the Gender Guidelines for Immigration Judges had been removed from the AIT website stating, “The Gender Guidelines are not, and have never been, the policy of the AIT and they have no AIT approval.”[48]

There are no statistics that break down the grounds for claiming asylum in the UK, but in the experience of solicitors most claims for asylum by women in the UK are based on “membership of a particular social group” or “political opinion” as defined in the Refugee Convention.[49] 

Social group

“Membership of a particular social group,” as a ground for asylum, cannot be defined by the persecution suffered by an individual; the group must exist independently of the persecution.[50] Someone whose claim is based on torture because of political belief must show proof of their political background and activity, such as membership of a political party, as well as proving that they were persecuted or tortured.

For women who are subject to domestic violence or rape, the claim requires more evidence: it is necessary to prove that the rape or violence occurred, that they remain at risk, that the state does not offer them sufficient protection, and that they are members of a particular social group in their society. In these cases, membership of a particular social group will require careful consideration of the particular circumstances of women as a group, or a subset of certain women, in the country of origin. This will usually be established in each individual case.[51]

However, specific subgroups of women in particular countries are sometimes established as a social group. For example, in the case of Shah and Islam v. SSHD  the House of Lords concluded that women in Pakistan who were victims of domestic violence constituted a particular social group. The reasoning was that these particular women formed a distinct group in society as evidenced by widespread discrimination against them, for which the state did not offer adequate protection as they were not seen as entitled to the same human rights as men.[52] In another example, in 2006 a House of Lords ruling found that women who have not undergone female genital mutilation in Sierra Leone were a particular social group because they are perceived by society as inferior.[53]

Political opinion

To accurately consider claims on the ground of persecution because of “political opinion”, caseworkers have to take into account that women, while certainly not always, may participate differently from men in political activities. Women’s contributions, such as cooking for the group or hiding rebels, are harder to prove than actual membership of a political group. It is particularly challenging for a woman to prove she was raped because of her political opinion, a ground under the Refugee Convention, because that requires evidence of intent. The ground of “political opinion” is often unsuccessful for women because UKBA case owners assume that women’s political participation would not be seen as important, or significant enough to be persecuted by the police in their home country.[54] This is contrary to the UKBA’s own gender guidelines which explicitly counter this assumption stating:

Decision-makers should beware of equating so-called "low-level" political activity with low risk. The response of the state to such activity may be disproportionately persecutory because of the involvement of a section of society, namely women, where because of their gender it is considered inappropriate for them to be involved at all.[55]

[1] Home Office, “Controlling our Borders: Making Migration Work for Britain. Five year strategy for asylum and immigration,” February 2005, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/reports/fiveyearstrategy/

(accessed September 24, 2009).

[2] UKBA abolished the previous possibility to claim asylum in Liverpool. Since October 14, 2009, “anyone wishing to make an initial asylum application in country [is] required to do so in person at the asylum screening unit in Croydon.” UKBA, “Changes to the asylum process,” http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2009/october/18-asylum-changes (accessed October 26, 2009).

[3] Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, “Liverpool Asylum Screening Unit: Unannounced Inspection,” 10 August 2009, http://www.ociukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/files/inspection-reports/liverpool_asu.pdf (accessed October 5, 2009), p. 4.

[4] Home Office, “Asylum Process,” http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/process/screening/ (accessed January 20, 2010).

[5] Home Office, “case owner,” http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/process/caseowner/ (accessed January 20, 2010).

[6] UK Border Agency, Home Office, “Your Asylum Interview,” http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/process /asyluminterview/ (accessed January 20, 2010).

[7] UK Border Agency, Home Office, “Your Asylum Interview,” http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/asylum/process /asyluminterview/ (accessed January 20, 2010).

[8] Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention), 189 U.N.T.S. 150, entered into force April 22, 1954, acceded to by the United Kingdom 1954 and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 606 U.N.T.S. 267, entered into force October 4, 1967 (abolishing the Refugee Convention's temporal and geographic restrictions), acceded to by the United Kingdom September 4, 1968.

[9] Refugee Convention, article 1.

[10] Asylum Policy Instruction (API), “Assessing the Asylum Claim,” October 2006 and re-branded December 2008, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumpolicyinstructions/apis/assessingtheclaim.pdf?view=Binary (accessed September 25, 2009).

[11] The legal basis for humanitarian protection is article 339c of the consolidated Home Office Immigration Rules, available at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/immigrationlaw/immigrationrules/ (accessed November 25, 2009).Humanitarian protection can be granted to a person who is not a refugee if there are “substantial grounds for believing that the person would face a real risk of suffering serious harm in the country of return; and the person cannot obtain effective protection from the authorities of that country (or will not because of the risk of suffering serious harm).” The Asylum Policy Instruction (API), “Humanitarian Protection,” November 2008, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumpolicyinstructions/apis/humanitarianprotection.pdf?view=Binary (accessed September 25, 2009). Discretionary leave is only granted in exceptional circumstances, for example when there might be a breach of the right to family life as prescribed in article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which states: “1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”

[12] Asylum Policy Instruction (API), “Discretionary Leave,” December 2008, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumpolicyinstructions/apis/discretionaryleave.pdf?view=Binary (accessed September 25, 2009).

[13] European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 213 U.N.T.S. 222, entered into force September 3, 1953, as amended by Protocols Nos 3, 5, 8, and 11 which entered into force on September 21, 1970, December 20, 1971, January 1, 1990, and November 1, 1998, respectively, art. 5(1)(f).

[14] Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, “Guidance on Asylum Appeals,” http://www.ait.gov.uk/Documents/FormsGuidance/StandardAppealForms/AsylumAppeals.pdf (accessed January 20, 2010).

[15] Article 26(6), “Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Procedure Rules,” http://www.ait.gov.uk/Documents/2005_ProcedureRules.pdf (accessed February 10, 2010).

[16] Article 31, “Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Procedure Rules,” http://www.ait.gov.uk/Documents/2005_ProcedureRules.pdf (accessed February 10, 2010).

[17] Section 2, “Her Majesty’s Courts Service Guidance note on applying for judicial review,” http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/1220.htm (accessed February 10, 2010).

[18] Ibid.

[19] Home Office, “Fair, effective, transparent and trusted. Rebuilding confidence in our immigration system,” July 2006, p. 23.

[21] Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!DocNumber&lg= en&type_doc =Regulation&an_doc=2003&nu_doc=343 (accessed November 11, 2009). The Dublin II Regulation established a set of hierarchical criteria for determining the EU member state responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the member states by a third-country national.

[22] UKBA Enforcement Instructions, Chapter 27, “Third Country Cases,” http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/enforcement/oemsectione/chapter27?view=Binary (accessed November 11, 2009).

[23]  The current list of countries is available here: Certification Under Section 94 of the NIA Act 2002, Introduction, p. 2,  http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumprocessguidance/specialcases/guidance/certificationundersection94.pdf?view=Binary (accessed December 5, 2009).

[26] Immigration Act 1971, Part 1, paras. 15-20, http://www.uk-legislation.hmso.gov.uk/RevisedStatutes/Acts/ukpga/1971/plain/cukpga_19710077_en#pt2 (accessed October 30, 2009).

[27] Immigration Act 1971, Part 1, para. 16.

[28] Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002; UK Borders Act 2007 and most recently, the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act, which was given royal assent on July 22, 2009, available at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2009/ukpga_20090011_en_1 (accessed November 4, 2009).

[29]  UKBA Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, Chapter 55: Detention and Temporary Leave, http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/enforcement/detentionandremovals/chapter55?view=Binary (accessed November 4, 2009).

[30] UKBA, “Large Scale Expansion of Britain’s Detention Estate,” May 19, 2008, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2008/largescaleexpansionofbritainsdet (accessed November 5, 2009).

[31] Currently these are: Brook House near Gatwick, Campsfield House north of Oxford, Colnbrook close to Heathrow and “most secure” centre, Dover near the port of Dover, Dungavel House between Muirkirk and Strathaven, Harmondsworth near Heathrow where men go through the Detained Fast Track procedure, Haslar near Portsmouth Harbour, Lindholme in South Yorkshire, Oakington near Cambridge, Tinsley House near Gatwick and Yarl’s Wood near Bedford where women go through the Detained Fast Track procedure, http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/managingborders/immigrationremovalcentres/.

[32] Home Office, “Asylum statistics United Kingdom 2008,” Home Office Statistical Bulletin, September 14, 2009.

2008, supplementary table 2k and table 2m.

[33] Home Office, “Asylum statistics United Kingdom 2008,” Home Office Statistical Bulletin, September 14, 2009, table 2l. In the same year, 30 percent of male applicants were granted status.

[34] This is not segregated by gender, so this is the total figure of appeals that were allowed for all asylum applicants. Home Office, “Asylum statistics United Kingdom 2008,” Home Office Statistical Bulletin, September 14, 2009, table 5a.

[35]Home Office, “Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary, United Kingdom - First Quarter 2009,” p. 1 and Home Office, “Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary, United Kingdom - First Quarter 2009,” p. 1.In these quarterly statistics there is no disaggregated information according to gender.

[36] Refugee Convention, article 1.

[37] UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Guidelines on International Protection No. 1: Gender-Related Persecution Within the Context of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 7 May 2002, HCR/GIP/02/01, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3d36f1c64.html (accessed September 30, 2009), para. 4.

[38]As stated in Asylum Aid, “Relocation, Relocation: The impact of internal relocation on women asylum seekers,” November 2008,  http://www.asylumaid.org.uk/data/files/publications/89/Executive_Summary.pdf (accessed December 8, 2009).

[39]See for example ICAR, “Navigation Guide. Women refugees and asylum seekers in the UK,” November 2004, available at http://www.icar.org.uk/9568/navigation-guides/women.html (accessed December 8, 2009).

[40]Refugee Council, “Refugee and Asylum Seeking Women Affected by Rape or Sexual Violence: a literature review,” February 2009, p. 4 and Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape, “Misjudging Rape. Breaching Gender Guidelines & International Law in Asylum Appeals,” December 2006.

[41] Email communication from Crossroads Women Centre & Women Against Rape, to Human Rights Watch, on August 14, 2009.

[42]Conclusion 73 (XLIV), "Conclusion on Refugee Protection and Sexual Violence," October 8, 1993, http://www.unhcr.org/excom/EXCOM/3ae68c6810.html (accessed September 24, 2009), para. (g).

[43]The most recent version is the Asylum Policy Instruction (API), “Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim,” October 2006, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumpolicyinstructions/apis/genderissueintheasylum.pdf?view=Binary (accessed July 2009)

[44]Asylum Policy Instruction (API), “Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim,” October 2006, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumpolicyinstructions/apis/genderissueintheasylum.pdf?view=Binary (accessed July 2009), p. 2.

[45]Asylum Policy Instruction (API), “Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim,” October 2006, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/asylumpolicyinstructions/apis/genderissueintheasylum.pdf?view=Binary (accessed July 2009), p. 6.

[46]See also specifically on the experiences of rape survivors and claims based on the Refugee Convention, Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape, “Misjudging Rape. Breaching Gender Guidelines & International Law in Asylum Appeals,” December 2006.

[47]Sophia Ceneda and Clare Palmer, “’Lip Service’ or Implementation? The Home Office Gender Guidance and women’s asylum claims in the UK,” Asylum Aid, March 2006, p. 11.

[48]Refugee Council, “Removal of the Gender Guidelines from Asylum Immigration Tribunal (AIT) website,” RCO Women’s News, Issue 21, January 2007, p. 2.

[49]For example, email correspondence with Gabriella Bettiga, Head of Immigration at Lawrence Lupin Solicitors, July 29, 2009.

[50]UNHCR, “Guidelines on International Protection: Membership of a particular social group” within the context

of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees”, HCR/GIP/02/02, 7 May 2002.

[51]Ibid.

[52]Islam (A.P.) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department Regina v. Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Another Ex Parte Shah (A.P.) (Conjoined Appeals), UKHL 20, 1999.

[53]Fornah v Secretary of State for the Home Department, UKHL 46, 2006.

[54]Black Women’s Rape Action Project and Women Against Rape, “Misjudging Rape. Breaching Gender Guidelines & International Law in Asylum Appeals”, December 2006, p. 10.

[55]Asylum Policy Instruction (API), “Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim,” October 2006, p. 10.