B.O. v Minister for Justice and Law Reform

JudgeMs. Justice Faherty
Judgment Date27 January 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] IEHC 32
Docket Number[2010 No. 1412 J.R.]
CourtHigh Court
Date27 January 2017

[2017] IEHC 32



Faherty J.

[2010 No. 1412 J.R.]

B. O.


A. O.



Asylum, Immigration & Nationality – S.13 of the Refugee Act, 1996 – Certiorari – Adverse credibility findings – Assessment of country of origin information – Reg. 7 of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 ('2006 Regulations') – Internal relocation

Facts: The applicants sought individual orders of certiorari against the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (Tribunal) that upheld the recommendations of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (Commissioner) that the applicants should not be declared as refugees. The applicants contended that the Tribunal must have considered all the relevant facts while assessing the country of origin information. The applicants also argued that the Tribunal members had breached the requirements of reg.7 of the 2006 Regulations as they failed to identify the specific part for the purpose of internal relocation and did not pay attention to the personal circumstances of the applicants. The main contention of the applicants was that the Tribunal did not give reasoned decision while making adverse credibility findings against the first applicant/mother and incorporated the said findings into the decision of the second applicant/minor daughter.

Ms. Justice Faherty granted leave along with the orders of certiorari, thereby quashing the decisions of the Tribunal and remitted the matter for de novo consideration before a different member of the Tribunal. The Court observed that the decision-maker was obliged to give reasoned decision to make adverse credibility findings against the asylum seeker and it was not permissible to incorporate those findings into the decision of the other asylum seeker. The Court also noted that it was not sufficient to make a finding of internal relocation without identifying the specific place to which the applicants could relocate. The Court further held that even if the decision-maker had made a finding that there was no well-founded fear of persecution to the applicants from her alleged persecutors; the decision-maker should have taken the personal circumstances of the first applicant in the context of analysing the reasonableness of relocating within the country of origin. The Court held that the decision-maker's findings as to state protection had no factual basis as the decision-maker did not have any regard to the available county of origin information that contradicted the availability of the state support system.

JUDGMENT of Ms. Justice Faherty delivered on the 27th day of January, 2017

These are telescoped proceedings in which the applicants seek individual orders of certiorari of the decisions of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal ('the Tribunal') which upheld the recommendations of the Refugee Applications Commissioner ('the Commissioner') not to declare them refugees.

Extension of Time

A short extension of time was required for the purpose of the within proceedings which the court was satisfied to grant, there being no objection by the respondents.


The applicants are Nigerian nationals who sought refugee status in the State. The first named applicant states that she is a Christian member of the Yoruba tribe and hails from Lagos. In 2003, she met her husband who is a Muslim. They married in February 2006. She asserts that both his family and hers were opposed to their relationship and subsequent union, because of the difference in their religions. As a result, the first named applicant was regularly subjected to beatings by her own family between 2003 and 2006. They ultimately rejected her. Between 2003 and 2006, she resided, together with her husband, with her husband's family in Lagos. She and her husband moved to a different address in Lagos in January 2006, where the first named applicant remained until February 2007.


In or about August 2006, when the first named applicant was approximately two months pregnant, her mother in law told her that she should abort the baby. Neither she nor her husband was agreeable to a termination and consequently she was rejected by her mother-in-law.


On 23rd December, 2006, the first named applicant's husband left their home in Lagos to go to work. He failed to return. The first named applicant feared for his safety. She reported his disappearance to the police but they were unable to locate him. The applicant stated that she did not know what happened to her husband but that his mother did not approve of her marriage to him. She has had no contact with her husband since December 2006.


According to the first named applicant, the last time she saw her mother –in- law (January 2007), they had an argument and her mother in law injured her with an iron and she also poured hot food over her. The applicant asserts that she left Nigeria on 7th February, 2007, and travelled to Ireland with an agent.


She claimed asylum in the State on 8th February, 2007. The grounds of her claim were that she feared that she could be harmed by her own family or her husband's family if she were to return to Nigeria.


The first named applicant gave birth to the second named applicant on 17th March, 2007, and an asylum claim was made on her child's behalf on 3rd August, 2007. The basis of this asylum claim was that the first named applicant feared that the second named applicant would be killed arising out of the disapproval of the marriage between the first named applicant and her husband. The case was also made at the s. 11 interview under the Refugee Act, 1996, ('the 1996 Act') which was conducted on 17th August, 2007, that the second named applicant would be subjected to FGM by her husband's family, that the first named applicant's own family would give her tribal markings and that as an adult she would be subjected to the same problems as the first named applicant in that she would not be allowed to marry person of her choice and that she could perhaps disappear like her father.


The first named applicant's asylum claim was rejected by the Commissioner in a s. 13 report, under the 1996 Act, dated 9th August, 2007. It was rejected on the basis of credibility concerns raised as to whether she was the partner of a Muslim husband; that it did not appear credible that her and her husband's families would have allowed their relationship to continue between 2003 and 2006 without taking any action to end it; and on account of credibility concerns regarding her account of her travel from Nigeria to this State. It was also found that internal relocation within Nigeria was a viable option for the first named applicant given the limited group of people she feared.


The Commissioner's s. 13 report on the second named applicant's claim issued on 22nd August, 2007. The reason given for the rejection of the claim was that there were 'a number of credibility concerns as outlined ... in relation to the applicant's mother's claim on which [the second named applicant's] claim largely is based. In addition it is not apparent that the option of internal relocation is not a viable option for the applicant and her mother'.


Both decisions were appealed to the Tribunal. The Tribunal conducted a single oral hearing in respect of both appeals on 21st July, 2010 and issued two decisions on 7th October, 2010 upholding the Commissioner. Both decisions are more particularly referred to else in this judgment.


The decisions are challenged on the basis that:

'(ii) The RAT erred in law and breached the principles of fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice in failing to adequately assess the subject of the availability of state protection to the Applicants in Nigeria as it is obliged to do and the decision is therefore invalid.

(iii) The RAT erred in law and breached the principles of fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice in deciding the appeals in pro forma fashion with no individual analysis of the Applicants' claims.

(iv) The RAT erred in law and breached the principles of fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice in failing to give reasons/adequate reasons for the decisions and in engaging in conjecture in the evaluation of the Applicants' claims.

(v) The RAT erred in law and breached the principles of fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice in arriving at conclusions regarding the first Applicant's credibility without giving the first Applicant the opportunity to comment on several matters which were under consideration by the RAT.

(vi) The RAT erred in law and breached the principles of fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice in failing to have any adequate regard to the Notice of Appeal and further supporting documentation submitted by the Applicants in support of their claims to be refugees and in further failing to have adequate regard to the findings arrived at in the section 13 report compiled by the RAC.

(vii) In determining the second Applicant's application the RAT relied on country of origin information which was not disclosed to the Applicant and therefore breached principles of audi alteram partem.

(viii) In determining the second Applicant's application the RAT failed to appropriately weigh in the balance the country of origin information before it.

(viv) In determining the applications the RAT applied an incorrect test in applying the internal relocation alternative.'

The applicants' submissions

A principal complaint is that the Tribunal Member erred in finding that state protection was available for the first named applicant. While the Tribunal Member found that the first named applicant was afforded state protection...

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