PE (Nigeria) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General

Respondent/Defendant:Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Ireland and the Attorney General
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2015] IEHC 155
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:11 Mar 2015
Judge:Eagar J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Asylum, Persecution, Refugee, Refugee Law
Country of Origin:Nigeria
Geographic Focus:Ireland

The applicant was a citizen of Nigeria who arrived in Ireland in 2010 and applied for asylum. She claimed that her brother-in-law had sought her land in Nigeria after her husband died in 2008. However, she sold the land and, using the proceeds, left Nigeria. She feared that her brother-in-law would kill her on account of having sold the land.
Having investigated her application, the Refugee Applications Commissioner recommended that she not be declared a refugee. She appealed to the Tribunal. She did not have an oral hearing as the Commissioner’s s. 13(1) report had included a finding  under s. 13 (6) (c) of the Refugee Act 1996 that she had failed to make an application as soon as reasonably practicable after arrival in the State. The Tribunal affirmed the Commissioner’s recommendation and she challenged its decision by way of judicial review.

The primary view taken by the Tribunal was that her brother-in-law’s alleged threat was criminal and not persecutory in nature. It was satisfied that she did not come within a Convention ground, in particular a “particular social group” comprising single women and/or widowed women and/or female-led households in Nigeria.

It also noted a number of credibility problems with her case. First, she had not gone to the police authorities because she said it was a family problem. Secondly, it noted that her husband had passed away in 2008 and that she had left Nigeria only in 2010. It considered that period of two years to have been a long time for her to remain there. Thirdly, it also found it incredible that her brother-in-law would now seek to kill her on the basis that she sold the land to pay for the trip to Ireland. Fourthly, it noted that she did not give details of her route of travel and that she had claimed that someone else had handed over her passport whenever she passed immigration controls en route to Ireland.

The applicant contended that the assessment of credibility was unlawful for being unreasoned and that she had been hampered by not having an oral appeal.

The court decided to uphold the Tribunal’s decision.

The court held that the applicant was not being persecuted because she was a woman but because she was being threatened as a result of her ownership of land which was coveted by her brother-in-law. It found no fault in the Tribunal’s decision as would warrant an order of certiorari quashing it.

Accordingly, the court upheld the Tribunal’s decision.




Domestic disputes will not necessarily give rise to valid claims for refugee status.

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