G. T. v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr Justice Michael Peart
Judgment Date27 July 2007
Neutral Citation[2007] IEHC 287
Docket NumberRecord Number: No. 322 JR/2006
CourtHigh Court
Date27 July 2007
T (G) v Minister for Justice

Between:

G. T.
Applicant

And

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Respondent

[2007] IEHC 287

Record Number: No. 322 JR/2006

THE HIGH COURT

IMMIGRATION LAW

Asylum

Judicial review - Appeal - Credibility - Decision of Refugee Appeals Tribunal - Applicant from Cameroon - Adverse credibility finding - Errors of fact - Whether credibility finding contaminated - Regard to whole decision - Materiality of error - Substantial grounds or anxious scrutiny - Whether court could intervene - AMT v Refugee Appeals Tribunal [2004] 2 IR 607 considered - Leave refused (2006/322JR - Peart J - 27/7/2007)

T(G) v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

The applicant from Cameroon sought to quash the decision of the respondent refusing the applicant asylum on the basis of adverse credibility findings. The applicant alleged that errors of fact were apparent in the decision.

Held by Peart J. that the respondent had not relied on facts that were incorrect or irrelevant. The Court would not lightly interfere with an assessment of credibility. The applicant could not establish substantial grounds or any modified standard thereof. Leave would be refused.

Reporter: E.F

TRAORE v REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL 2004 2 IR 607

Judgment of
Mr Justice Michael Peart
1

The applicant is from the Cameroon, and on her arrival here on 29th April 2002 applied for a declaration of refugee status which was in due course refused. She appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and a decision was made by that body on the 16th February 2006 affirming the recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner that she should not be declared a refugee.

2

The Decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal is very detailed and runs to some twenty pages. Nevertheless the applicant seeks leave to quash this decision on the grounds that in arriving at an adverse credibility conclusion there are errors of fact apparent on the face of the decision which, in her submission, are of such significance as to undermine the decision in its entirety. Apart from seeking to quash that decision, she seeks an order also by way of mandamus remitting the appeal back to a different tribunal for determination.

3

The basis of her application for asylum was that when her husband died in the Cameroon she, along with her three young children, were required to move to the home and farm of her late husband's older brother, where there were already his five wives and thirty children, and to become his sixth wife. In her affidavit grounding the present application it is stated that her fear was of being forced to marry this man and have sexual relations with him. She refused to do this but says that eventually she and her children were forced to move there. She stated that her children were prevented by him from attending school and that he required them to work on his farm instead if they wanted food. She stated also that he was supposed to support her and her children after her husband's death but that he did not do so. She stated also that she was not liked by his wives, and was treated badly by them and their children, and that if she refused to have sex with him she would be beaten by him and that he threatened to kill her.

4

She stated also that in the Cameroon it is customary that upon the death of a husband the widow must marry her husband's younger brother and not the older brother. She could not state at interview how it was that where the custom was that she must marry a younger brother, she was being forced to marry the elder brother. The older brother in question in the present case is apparently aged in his 70s. At interview she stated that in fact her late husband had only one brother. Neither was she aware of any other woman in her village who had been required to marry the deceased husband's brother.

5

At any rate she decided to run away, and left her children with her parents.

6

She stated at interview that fortunately she met a man who helped her come to this country. However she arrived here on her own stating in her interview that her three children remain in Cameroon and were living with her parents there. At interview she stated that since her arrival here she had not been on contact with her parents, and had not written to them either. That was in September 2002. However the decision of the Tribunal Member states that when cross-examined during the course of her appeal it emerged that her children were now in this country since September 2004, but that the applicant stated that she had had no contact with them and that they did not know that she was here in this jurisdiction.

7

In relation to her travel arrangements she stated that she knows that she left the Cameroon by air, and that she stopped in a country where she heard people speaking French. She herself speaks French and English. She stated that they remained in that place for thirty minutes. Her questionnaire form completed on her arrival describes her route to here as being "Cameroon/England/Ireland". She stated that she did not know by whom or how her travel was paid for as she had no money, and that she had no identification documents with her and was at no stage asked to produce any on her route to this country or on arrival here.

8

In her grounding affidavit the applicant states that her appeal hearing was unsatisfactory in several respects, but particularly as to the manner in which the issue of her own credibility was determined. In this regard she states that the Tribunal when rejecting her appeal placed reliance on what she describes as " a number of immaterial and exaggerated inconsistencies" in her evidence, and also on a number of clear misstatements of her evidence. She identifies the matters she relies upon, and I will set them out hereunder in accordance with her affidavit:

Inconsistencies/errors relied upon by applicant:
1. Reference to mistreatment of, and risk to her children by her late husband's brother:
9

In her decision the Tribunal Member has stated the applicant left her children with her parents in the same village where her late husband's brother lived and"she was not afraid to do so albeit she has alleged that the same brother in law mistreated her children...." (my emphasis). The Tribunal Member went on to state in this regard at paragraph (h) of the decision on page 19 thereof:

"It is considered by this Member that no natural mother might quit her country of origin leaving behind her three children who she has suggested to this Tribunal are at risk from this brother in law and leave the jurisdiction on the 29th April 2002 thereby, as suggested, saving herself". (my emphasis)

10

These matters are stated by the Tribunal member to form part of the bases for finding the applicant not to be personally credible, as stated at page 20 of the decision.

11

The applicant complains, however, that she never stated in her questionnaire, interview or in her evidence at the appeal hearing that her brother in lawmistreated her children, and never stated that her children were at risk of him. She states in her affidavit that at the interview she was asked if he was good to her children and that she replied by saying that he did not send them to school and that he had treated her badly in front of her children. She states that she was also asked if she was afraid that something would happen to them if she left them behind on the first occasion on which she left his house for Mamfe, and that she said that she was not so afraid on that occasion.

12

In her questionnaire she stated in this regard that this man stopped her children from going to school and that he said that they had to work on the farm if they wanted to eat. In her interview she stated again that he would not let her children go to school (p. 7 thereof)

13

It is therefore submitted that the Tribunal member has reached an adverse credibility finding based upon an error as to what the applicant's evidence was, and that this contaminates the credibility finding, especially when there are other such errors to be found also.

14

Siobhán Stack BL for the respondent herein however submits that it is relevant to look at what the Tribunal Member stated earlier in the decision in this regard at page 16 in paragraph 1 (a) where it is stated:

"She said that she was beaten and mistreated by her brother in law and forced to have sexual relations with him and when she refused to marry him she continued to be beaten. She...

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