J. O. v Minister for Justice and Law Reform and Others

JudgeMr. Justice Mac Eochaidh
Judgment Date16 April 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] IEHC 249
CourtHigh Court
Date16 April 2015

[2015] IEHC 249


[No. 1201 J.R./2010]
O (J) v Min for Justice & Ors
No Redaction Needed


J. O.



Asylum – Judicial review – Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) – Refusal of refugee status

Facts: The applicant sought for leave to seek judicial review of an order of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal declining the refugee status plea of the applicant. The applicant claimed that the Tribunal's assessment of credibility of the applicant was unlawful. The applicant claimed that the Tribunal failed to understand the submissions of the applicant. The applicant further claimed that the Tribunal erred in lawfully applying the internal relocation alternative.

Mr. Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh held that the application for leave to seek judicial review of an order of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal declining the refugee status plea of the applicant would be denied for lack of substantial grounds. The Court held that the Tribunal was correct and rational in coming to the conclusion that the applicant could safely relocate internally. The Court validated the standard of 'internal relocation' based on the statement of the applicant that she accidently arrived in Ireland and that she was under impression that she was moving to another part of Nigeria.


1. This is a 'telescoped' application for leave to seek judicial review of a decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal dated 30 th July 2010. The applicant was refused a recommendation of refugee status on the basis that internal relocation within Nigeria is a viable alternative and her account was found to lack credibility.


2. The applicant is a Nigerian citizen who was born in Edo State in 1985. She came to Ireland on 27 th April 2007 and claimed asylum on 2 nd May 2007. Her application was refused by the office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner at first instance and she duly appealed to the Tribunal.


3. The applicant claimed to fear persecution from her father who had tried to force her to marry his business partner. The applicant refused to do this and fled her home in Edo State to Lagos. She states that she remained in Lagos for one or two weeks and while there she met a woman who took her in and looked after her. It transpired that this woman was involved in prostitution and sought to introduce the applicant to a customer. The applicant claims that this man decided to help her as he considered that she was too young to be involved in prostitution and she reminded him of his deceased daughter. Two days after their first meeting, this man came to take the applicant away from her situation. The applicant claims that she was brought to a river and taken aboard a big ship. She states that there was an agent there and that she was hidden aboard the ship until she arrived in Ireland.

Section 11 interview:

4. During the course of her exchanges in the s. 11 interview, the applicant gave direct evidence of certain matters which are germane to the later findings reached by the Tribunal Member on internal relocation. It is proposed to set out the relevant extracts of the questions and answers below:

"Q. 1

Have you any documentation with you today which would establish your identity or documentation that you feel is relevant to your claim? Why have you no documentation in relation to your identity, nationality or travel (if relevant)


No. I don't have ID documents as I didn't plan to travel abroad. I never had any travel documents during my journey to Ireland.


Q. 32

Why did you not remain in Lagos instead of leaving to come to Ireland?


When I got to Lagos I was planning on staying there to avoid having to marry that man but then I met the man Alhazji and he said I

was too young to become a prostitute and that he would help me leave and he brought me to the ship.

Q. 33

But surely you could have stayed in Lagos or gone to another part of Nigeria, avoided prostitution and got a job?


That is what I was planning to do, I was going to leave that woman's house and find a job and somewhere else to stay but then I met with Alhaji and he offered to help me.

Q. 34

Why did you not tell Alhaji that you did not need to leave the country, that you were going to stay in Lagos, avoid prostitution and get a job?


Because he never told me that he was going to take me abroad, take me to Ireland. He said he was taking me somewhere where I would have a better life and avoid prostitution.

Q. 35

Did you not ask where you were being taken when you got on the ship?


I did ask but he just said I was being taken somewhere safe, I thought he meant another part of Nigeria.


Q. 43

What about if you just remained in Lagos (or another part of Nigeria) and avoided your father and friends of his from the cult? You stated that this was your intention before the man Alhaji organised for you to travel abroad without your knowledge?


I believe that I would be able to remain in Lagos and get a job if my father did not know where I was. I intended to move away from the lady and get a job and somewhere to stay.

Q. 44

So what would prevent you from going back to Lagos and living there in safety, away from your father?


I don't really know anybody in Lagos apart from that lady who's involved in prostitution and I don't want to do that. Also I don't know whether or not my father might try to go to Lagos and he might find me there and bring me back and make me marry his friend."


5. Counsel for the applicant, Paul O'Shea B.L., pursued three main grounds of challenge in these proceedings, namely that the Tribunal had: (i) failed to lawfully deal with the assessment of credibility; (ii) failed to deal with the applicant's submissions; and (iii) failed to lawfully apply the internal relocation alternative.


6. Counsel submitted that the Tribunal Member appears to deal with credibility in one paragraph, she states:

"The Applicant states that a stranger, a customer of a brothel, organised her travel to Ireland, did not tell her where she was to go nor did he tell her what she was to do when she got to her destination nor did he provide her with any contact details. It is not credible that a stranger would organise illegal travel for the Applicant, to a country where she knew nobody and that he would not tell her what country she was going to and what she was to do in this country. The Applicant has completed secondary education and had been planning to leave Mama and live and work elsewhere in Lagos. It is not credible that she would have consented to...

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