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HN

 

HN is a Colombian man in his late 50s who was refused naturalisation in 2006 due to his association with the Colombian group ‘FARC’. His appeal was dismissed in 2015.

HN initially came to the UK in 1995 and claimed asylum, which was refused to him. He stayed in the UK and requested refugee status in 2001 that he got granted the following year together with indefinite leave to remain. In 2004, HN and his wife applied to be naturalised as British citizens. In 2006 HN’s application for UK citizenship was refused based on the ‘good character’ criterion. The reason for refusal was that HN was a member of FARC, the revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). In 2012, HN reapplied to become British citizen and was once again refused. The reason was his past involvement with FARC.

While HN admits that he was politically active in Colombia in the UP (Union Patriotica) political party, he challenges the assertion of him being a ‘leading UK member’ of FARC, arguing that these groups are distinct. Numerous support letters were issued in HN’s support including from the Colombian Red Cross and Amnesty International stating that HN was indeed a member of the UP and that he, as such, is under continuous threat from the government as a political activist. Bringing into consideration several witness statement, the case made about HN’s involvement in FARC are far from clear and subject to debate as evidenced in his SIAC appeal.

HN’s employer among others made the case of his good character and contribution to the local community, including being a foster carer and organising youth activities in his London neighbourhood. Despite numerous examples crediting HN for his good character, the secret evidence confirmed his previous links with the FARC. Consequently, SIAC deemed the decision to refuse him British citizenship ‘reasonable’. The conclusion was summarised by SIAC as the following:

‘For the reasons set out in the CLOSED judgment, we have decided that the Policy was properly and lawfully applied in this case, despite the length of time the Applicant has lived in the UK, without any cautions or convictions, and whilst in employment, and taking into account the positive matters advanced. We reject the argument that the decision was disproportionate. In our view it is proportionate on the part of the Secretary of State to conclude that past membership of FARC, in the context of this case, should preclude the grant of citizenship.’ (SIAC 2015, our emphasis).