HO v Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General

adminLeave a Comment

Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2014] IEHC 144
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:21 Mar 2014
Judge:MacEochaidh J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Asylum, Asylum application (Examination of an), Persecution, Protection, Refugee, Refugee (Convention), Refugee Law, Refugee Status
Country of Origin:Nigeria
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/303cb1ac-fc49-4701-aba7-a1bc537d6f74/2014_IEHC_144_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland

Facts:
The applicant, a national of Nigeria, was granted leave to seek judicial review of a decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal refusing her asylum. She claimed to have a well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of membership of a particular social group and religion. She claimed that her problems began after she became pregnant. Her boyfriend was a Christian whilst she and all her family were Muslims. They refused to let her marry him and told her to end the pregnancy. She remained in the family home and then left for a friend’s house which was nearby. Her brother was searching for her and her friend gave her some money in order to go to Lagos. She stayed with relatives there. A pastor at a nearby church got her in touch with “a white man” to help her. He arranged for her to leave Nigeria and travelled with her on her journey to Ireland. She gave birth to a baby girl after her arrival. She claimed that her family would kill her or her child. She admitted that she did not make any report to the police as her family had told her they would not intervene as it was a family matter, nor did she seek the help of any non-governmental organisation.

Reasoning:
The applicant contended that, in making its decision, the Tribunal had failed to consider country of origin information; that its finding of state protection was unlawful in the light of the information available; and that its adverse credibility findings were unreasonable and unlawful.

The court held that the Tribunal had expressly had regard to the country of origin information submitted by the applicant and noted that it had quoted it in its decision. It held that the Tribunal had accepted the contents of the country of origin information insofar as it indicated that the applicant might have a subjective fear of her family. However, it did not consider that fear to be objectively justified or well-founded. The court held that its finding that state protection was available to her was validly made. It identified the correct test and then applied it to the facts. It did not consider that her explanation for failing to go to the police was sufficient to discharge the onus on her to seek the protection of her country of origin. It made a valid finding on the basis of a joint British-Danish fact finding mission to Abuja and Lagos, stemming from 2004, that state protection would have been reasonably forthcoming to her had she sought it.

The court also upheld the Tribunal’s conclusion that the applicant’s failure to go to the police, in circumstances where its protection might reasonably have been forthcoming, defeated her claim for asylum. The court held that an asylum applicant will not meet the definition of ‘Convention refugee’ where it was objectively unreasonable for him or her not to have sought the protection of the authorities in his or her country of origin.

The court also upheld the validity of the adverse credibility findings. It held that, on a review of the applicant’s questionnaire and her evidence at the hearing as recorded by the Tribunal, it was clear that there were apparent inconsistencies in her testimony as regards her travel to the State, including whether or not the “white man” had accompanied her at all times, retained her passport and travel documents, and came to the State with her. It also upheld the Tribunal’s finding that it was not credible that the applicant did not know the name of the man, despite spending a week in his company, and the implausibility of her claim to have been encouraged to end her pregnancy, arising out of the fact that she had only mentioned it for the first time at her oral hearing.

The court found that there were a number of inherent inconsistencies and unresolved contradictions in her case that affected her credibility and that the Tribunal had validly assessed it.

Decision:
It accordingly refused her application for relief by way of judicial review.

Principles:

Inherent inconsistencies and unresolved contradictions in an asylum applicant's narrative will likely lead to an adverse finding on credibility. An applicant’s failure to go to the police, in circumstances where its protection might reasonably have been forthcoming, means that he or she cannot validly claim to be a refugee.

Go Back

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *