MCA v Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

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Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2014] IEHC 504
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:01 Oct 2014
Judge:Barr J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Asylum, Country of Origin Information, Persecution, Refugee
Country of Origin:Nigeria
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/424edd01-47a7-41c1-9fcb-10f73615043c/2014_IEHC_504_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland
Facts:
The applicant claimed to be a Nigerian national. He applied for asylum and said he feared persecution in Nigeria because of his homosexuality. He said that he had been beaten up in Nigeria previously when his sexuality was discovered. He said he then moved to Lagos and entered into a relationship with a man. The man’s father found out about it and came with three men, who were armed with a gun and an axe, to the applicant’s residence. He told him not to see his son again and also threatened to report him to the police. Despite this, he continued the relationship and was beaten up, resulting in a stay in hospital lasting twelve days. During that time, he was introduced to another homosexual man, who provided money to pay some of the hospital expenses. On discharge, the applicant went to live with that man, who then gave him some money to enable him to flee Nigeria with an agent who was to take him to Ireland. He said that he travelled by air to London and thence to Belfast, eventually making his way to Dublin.
The Commissioner made a negative recommendation on his application for asylum. The applicant appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, and submitted a large volume of country of origin information on homosexuality in Nigeria. The Tribunal affirmed the recommendation on the basis of lack of credibility and the availability of internal relocation in Lagos. The applicant challenged its decision.
Insofar as the finding on internal relocation was concerned, the applicant contended that the Tribunal did not take account of the country of origin information showing that there was a risk of persecution of homosexual men throughout Nigeria. He also criticised the finding that he was unlikely to face persecution from State agents in Nigeria on the basis that it ran counter to the country information, which referred to police abuse of homosexuals and the penalisation of homosexuality in criminal law. The information also showed that homosexuals did not live openly in Lagos for fear of persecution. The applicant also pointed out that he had relocated to Lagos on a previous occasion, but had been severely beaten on account of the relationship he had formed there.
Reasoning:
The court agreed that internal relocation to Lagos was not a reasonable option given he had received a severe beating there and that country of origin information suggested that he would still face persecution there. The court held that, in making the finding that internal relocation was a viable option for the applicant, the Tribunal either did not appear to have had regard to the country of origin information submitted on behalf of the applicant, or disregarded it as to render its finding irrational.
The court also quashed as unreasoned the Tribunal’s finding that the applicant’s claim to have received financial help to leave Nigeria from the man to whom his friends introduced him, was incredible. On the same basis, it quashed the Tribunal’s finding that his journey to Ireland was not credible and its rejection of his claim that he did not apply for asylum in the United Kingdom because he was following the directions of an agent.
The court also held that the Tribunal had failed to provide any reasons for its conclusion that the applicant had not suffered past persecution. It pointed out that it was at odds with the finding that he should relocate to Lagos on account of past persecution.
Decision:
The court therefore quashed the Tribunal’s decision.

Facts:
The applicant claimed to be a Nigerian national. He applied for asylum and said he feared persecution in Nigeria because of his homosexuality. He said that he had been beaten up in Nigeria previously when his sexuality was discovered. He said he then moved to Lagos and entered into a relationship with a man. The man’s father found out about it and came with three men, who were armed with a gun and an axe, to the applicant’s residence. He told him not to see his son again and also threatened to report him to the police. Despite this, he continued the relationship and was beaten up, resulting in a stay in hospital lasting twelve days. During that time, he was introduced to another homosexual man, who provided money to pay some of the hospital expenses. On discharge, the applicant went to live with that man, who then gave him some money to enable him to flee Nigeria with an agent who was to take him to Ireland. He said that he travelled by air to London and thence to Belfast, eventually making his way to Dublin.

The Commissioner made a negative recommendation on his application for asylum. The applicant appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, and submitted a large volume of country of origin information on homosexuality in Nigeria. The Tribunal affirmed the recommendation on the basis of lack of credibility and the availability of internal relocation in Lagos. The applicant challenged its decision.Insofar as the finding on internal relocation was concerned, the applicant contended that the Tribunal did not take account of the country of origin information showing that there was a risk of persecution of homosexual men throughout Nigeria. He also criticised the finding that he was unlikely to face persecution from State agents in Nigeria on the basis that it ran counter to the country information, which referred to police abuse of homosexuals and the penalisation of homosexuality in criminal law. The information also showed that homosexuals did not live openly in Lagos for fear of persecution. The applicant also pointed out that he had relocated to Lagos on a previous occasion, but had been severely beaten on account of the relationship he had formed there.

Reasoning:

The court agreed that internal relocation to Lagos was not a reasonable option given he had received a severe beating there and that country of origin information suggested that he would still face persecution there. The court held that, in making the finding that internal relocation was a viable option for the applicant, the Tribunal either did not appear to have had regard to the country of origin information submitted on behalf of the applicant, or disregarded it as to render its finding irrational. The court also quashed as unreasoned the Tribunal’s finding that the applicant’s claim to have received financial help to leave Nigeria from the man to whom his friends introduced him, was incredible. On the same basis, it quashed the Tribunal’s finding that his journey to Ireland was not credible and its rejection of his claim that he did not apply for asylum in the United Kingdom because he was following the directions of an agent.The court also held that the Tribunal had failed to provide any reasons for its conclusion that the applicant had not suffered past persecution. It pointed out that it was at odds with the finding that he should relocate to Lagos on account of past persecution.

Decision:

The court therefore quashed the Tribunal’s decision.

Principles:

Findings made by a protection decision-maker, including adverse credibility findings, will need to be reasoned if they are not to be struck down by a court as having no rational basis. A finding that internal relocation is available to applicants claiming fear of persecution on the basis of homosexuality will have to have regard to country of origin information and examine whether or not a place of relocation exists where they can live openly as homosexuals without fear of persecution. 

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