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

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Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2014] IEHC 162
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:06 Mar 2014
Judge:Barr J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Persecution, Refugee, Refugee (Convention), Refugee Law, Refugee Status
Country of Origin:Nigeria
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/6592414d-7f89-43a2-b9ac-bc8510a93a77/2014_IEHC_162_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland

Facts:
The applicant, a Nigerian national, was a Muslim, whose partner was a pagan, but later converted to Islam at her request. When his parents discovered this, they reacted angrily and threatened her. Her partner’s father, a wealthy and influential man, and leader in the Ogboni Society, subsequently became very ill. An oracle, in the form of a traditional priest, was consulted, and he indicated that in order for her partner’s father to recover, it would be necessary to sacrifice a child from the family. The applicant, who was the only pregnancy in the family at this time, was subsequently kidnapped and detained by three men working for her partner’s father. They informed her that her unborn baby was to be sacrificed to secure her partner’s father’s recovery. After ten days in detention, the applicant was rescued by her partner, who had learnt of her whereabouts from a family member. She subsequently left Nigeria for the State, her passage being arranged by her partner with the assistance of an agent of African origin. She travelled by air from Lagos via an airport which she surmised was in Europe.

His application was rejected by the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, whose decision the applicant sought to quash.

Her main complaint was that, in the course of making its decision, the Tribunal had relied on certain country of origin information which was not made available to her, in breach of fair procedures. The Tribunal’s decision was based predominantly on information about the Ogboni society sourced by the Tribunal itself. It also relied on three unspecified reports in support of a finding that the applicant’s fear that her father-in-law would, as an Ogboni member, pose a threat to her, was not well founded.

Reasoning:
The court decided to quash the Tribunal’s decision. It held that the Tribunal had relied upon country of origin information about the Ogboni society which was not put to the applicant. The documentation was significant and related to a central part of her case. The court concluded that, in relying on such information, the Tribunal acted in material breach of s. 16(8) of the Refugee Act 1996, and also breached fair procedures.

Decision:
Accordingly, it granted leave and made an order quashing the Tribunal’s decision.

Principles:

A protection decision-maker which wishes to make a material adverse credibility finding on an asylum applicant’s claim by reference to country of origin information is obliged by fair procedures and s. 16(8) of the Refugee Act 1996 to put that information to the applicant for comment.

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