M. -v- Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Anor, [2009] IEHC 492 (2009)

Docket Number:2009 96 JR
Party Name:M., Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Anor
Judge:Cooke J.





JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Cooke delivered the 11th day of November, 2009

1. The applicant is a native of Nigeria, now twenty-four years of age. She arrived in the State in October, 2006, and claimed asylum. She claimed to have suffered appalling sexual abuse, including rape, from a young age by her father and his associates. She has twice been made pregnant and had abortions arranged for her by her mother, the last in January, 2006. She fears that if returned to Nigeria, she will again suffer the same persecution.

2. In a section 13 report, dated 16th October, 2006, the Commissioner found the personal history she recounted credible, and her graphic account of regular abuse by her father's group of paedophiles was described as "chilling". The report nevertheless recommended that she should not be declared a refugee because, "the applicant stated clearly that the only reason why she left Nigeria was because of domestic and sexual abuse by her father. Although this applicant presented credible testimony, this is not considered to amount to persecution, as defined by the Geneva Convention 1951. It is clear that her motivation for coming to Ireland was for domestic reasons, and therefore there appears to be no section to link with the applicant's claim for asylum".

3. The applicant's appeal to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal was ruled upon in a decision dated 9th December, 2008 (the Contested Decision), which affirmed the negative recommendation of the Commissioner. The applicant now seeks leave to apply for relief by way of judicial review to quash that decision on the basis of something in excess of 25 grounds set out in a proposed statement of grounds.

4. In the Contested Decision, the personal history given by the applicant as the basis for her claim to fear persecution is accepted as credible. The rejection of the claim is based on two conclusions, namely, that State protection against the persecution she fears would be available if necessary, and, secondly, that she could avoid such persecution by relocating internally in Nigeria.

5. In arriving at the former conclusion, the decision quotes extensively from country of origin information on the availability of police protection for victims of sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence in Nigeria. The decision notes that according to this information, while rape is a crime punishable by life imprisonment, it does not extend to marital rape, and that sexual harassment is not outlawed. Further, violence within a family is not treated seriously by the police and few rapes are reported to the police for that reason. The Tribunal Member concludes: -

"The applicant fears returning to Nigeria as she fears she would not be able to access protection, and she states that her father and his friends may find her. The applicant...

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