The applicants were a mother and her daughter. They were nationals of Cameroon, who arrived in Ireland and applied for asylum. The mother stated she was raped by her father, and conceived her daughter as a result. This was considered an abomination. The rapist committed suicide, following which she was accused of witchcraft and her daughter demanded for sacrifice. They fled and were sheltered by a man who took sexual advantage of the mother. They later travelled to Ireland by sea with the help of a nun. After arrival in Ireland, the mother was diagnosed with HIV.
Having investigated their claim, the Refugee Applications Commissioner recommended that they not be declared refugees. This was based on lack of credibility, availability of state protection and internal relocation, and a lack of nexus to the Geneva Convention. The applicants appealed to the Tribunal, which affirmed the adverse credibility findings made by the Commissioner and further held that the discrimination facing HIV sufferers in Cameroon did not amount to persecution.
The applicants challenged the Tribunal’s findings that their claim lacked credibility, contending that they were based on conjecture and inadequately repeated the adverse credibility findings made by the Commissioner. They also contended that the Tribunal failed to have regard to all significant documents, including country of origin information, and failed to give reasons for the rejection of significant aspects of their claim.
In particular, they contended inter alia that the Tribunal failed to state whether or not it accepted that the mother suffered rape at the hands of her own father, which resulted in the conception of her daughter; whether such an issue was regarded as an abomination in Cameroon. Accordingly, they claimed that their core claim had not been lawfully assessed. The Tribunal argued that all matters put forward on behalf of the applicants had been considered by it, although it conceded that there was no finding on the veracity of the claim of rape and subsequent conception. The Tribunal argued that it was clear that the applicants were not believed on a number of fundamental matters which were related to those claims.
The court decided to quash the decision.
It held that where documentary evidence was put forward by an applicant to a decision-maker like the Tribunal, reasons had to be given for ignoring or rejecting it. It noted that, in the instant case, the applicant had given on a number of occasions the name of her own father as her daughter’s father. It was to be presumed that that had been accepted by the Tribunal, there being no finding to the contrary. Country of origin information supported the proposition that a child born as a result of incest would be regarded as an abomination in Cameroon. The court held that the Tribunal had not made findings on specific parts of the applicants’ claim and that the findings of credibility therefore could not stand.
The court therefore granted leave and, the matter being telescoped, decided to quash the Tribunal’s decision.