A A (Morocco) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Others
|Mr. Justice Cooke
|12 October 2011
| IEHC 389
|12 October 2011
 IEHC 389
THE HIGH COURT
REFUGEE ACT 1996 S13
REFUGEE ACT 1996 S2
EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ELIGIBILITY FOR PROTECTION) REGS 2006 SI 518/2006 REG 2
E v MIN FOR JUSTICE & ANOR UNREP CLARKE 24.6.2005 (EX TEMPORE)
State protection - Internal relocation - Test - Decision of respondent - Finding by respondent state protection available - Finding internal relocation viable option -Whether open to respondent to make such findings - Whether substantial grounds to grant leave - E v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Unrep, Clarke J, 24th June 2005) - European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (SI 518/2006), reg 2 - Refugee Act 1996 (No 17), ss 2 and 13- Leave refused (2008/1214JR - Cooke J - 12/10/2011)  IEHC 389
A(A) (Morocco) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal
Facts The applicant, a Morocco national had applied for refugee status. The applicant claimed asylum on the basis of a fear of persecution for reasons of religion if returned to Morocco. It had been contended that her family were strict Muslims and that she had suffered persecution as a result of her choice to live a less strict lifestyle including particularly of her refusal to wear the hijab. Due to a relationship she had formed and other reasons it had been submitted before the Tribunal that she would be unable to return to Morocco because her family would find her and she would be in serious trouble. The first named respondent affirmed the negative recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner that she had not established a well founded fear of persecution. The applicant initiated judicial review proceedings contending that the decision to refuse refugee status was flawed relating to the appraisal of State protection and internal relocation as available domestic protection rendering international protection unnecessary.
Held by Cooke in refusing the application. The Tribunal member had concluded that the applicant's failure to seek protection was not objectively reasonable. The entire analysis of the applicant's case had been thorough, rational and balanced. The conclusions reached in relation to the availability of State protection and internal relocation were clearly conclusions which the Tribunal member was entitled to reach on the basis of the account given. The Tribunal member had made an assessment of the applicant's story based on common sense as to the reality in objective terms of her fears of this particular form of persecution being realised if she returned to Morocco and avoided the remote and conservative locations which were the source of her subjective fears.
1. This is an application for leave to seek judicial review of a decision of the first named respondent made on the 3 rd September, 2008, which affirmed the negative recommendation of a report by the Refugee Applications Commissioner pursuant to s.13 of the Refugee Act 1996, dated the 30 th January, 2008, on the applicant's request for asylum in the State.
2. The applicant is a national from Morocco who comes from the city of B. M. She claimed asylum on the basis of a fear of persecution for reasons of religion if returned to Morocco. She claims to be a Muslim belonging to the Berber ethnic group. She said that her family are strict Muslims and that she suffered persecution as a result of her choice to live a less strict lifestyle including particularly of her refusal to wear the hijab. Against the wishes of her father she studied at university in B. M. for five years, graduating in 2003 and later obtaining a certificate as a teacher. She then obtained a post as a government-appointed teacher in a lower secondary school in a conservative Berber village called Mzoda. While teaching there, she encountered the disapproval of school parents who objected to her liberal classroom environment and her failure to wear traditional Muslim attire.
3. During her university days she met and formed a relationship with a French friend by the name of Simon. She claims that while in Mzoda, Simon came to visit her. This visit incurred the antagonism of the villagers who surrounded and stoned her house. Simon had to hide and she tried to persuade the villagers that he had left. She had to hide Simon for two days until he could leave in disguise.
4. Simon again visited her in July 2007 and when he was seen the villagers attacked and abused him. She was then forced to flee with Simon to Marrakech where she tried unsuccessfully to find help. She hid in the house of a friend and in her sister's house, but was constantly afraid that her family would find her. Simon then arranged for the applicant to travel to Dublin with a man named Pierre. Pierre took her to France and after a brief stop, she was taken by another plane to Dublin. She said that they experienced no problems entering the country at immigration and that Pierre put her in a taxi and brought her to the Department of Justice.
5. The applicant claimed to be unable to return to Morocco because her family would find her and she would be in serious trouble. She could not get married because she is not a virgin. She would also get into trouble for breaking her government contract as a teacher.
6. As already indicated, the s. 13 report of the Commissioner recommended that the applicant should not be declared to be a refugee having concluded that she has not established a well founded fear of persecution as required by s. 2 of the Refugee Act 1996. It found that her claim to fear persecution in Morocco on grounds of religion was not well founded.
7. Under the heading "Well Founded Fear" the Commissioner records the essential facts of the applicant's account of her personal history until she left Morocco. No doubt is expressed as to the veracity of the historical events given.
8. The report then considered the issue of the availibility of domestic protection and pointed out that the applicant had not at any time sought police protection in Morocco. The report further considered the question of internal protection by relocation and thought it "reasonable to suggest that if the applicant were to stay away from Beni Mellal she would have not confrontations with her father or cousins and that if she were to relocate to Casablanca or Rabat she would be able to remain there as there would be a more open view of religion and women in those locations". Accordingly, insofar as the s. 13 report identifies a specific conclusion as to why the applicant had not established a well founded fear of persecution it is clear that it was on the basis that protection by means of internal relocation in Morocco would have been available. No specific conclusion appears to be expressed in relation to the question of State protection. The observation that she never sought State protection followed by references to country of origin information as to...
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