France – CNDA, 21 October 2017, Mme E., nº 16029780

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
23-10-2017
Citation:
nº 16029780
Court Name:
National Asylum Court/Cour nationale du droit d’asile (CNDA)
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Headnote: 

In countries where there is a high prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM), as in Nigeria, non-excised persons can be considered as having a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of membership of a particular social group within the meaning of Article 1A(2) of 1951 Refugee Convention. Refugee status can be granted where there is a considerable risk of excision and insufficient protection against this threat.

Facts: 

Miss E., of Nigerian nationality, was born in France in 2015. The French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra) rejected Mlle E.’s application for asylum on 25 August 2016. Before the Cour Nationale du Droit d’Asile (National Asylum Court)  (CNDA), Ms. E. argued that Miss E. should be recognised as a refugee or, failing that, should be granted subsidiary protection. Ms. E. claims that upon returning to their country of origin, her daughter is to face the risk of persecution from her family due to her membership of the social group formed by young women who oppose female genital mutilation.

Decision & Reasoning: 

First the courts considered Article 1A(2) of 1951 Refugee Convention, which states that a refugee is any person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”. They also considered article of EU Directive 2011/95/UE which states a particular social group is classed as such when members of said group “share a characteristic or belief that is [..] fundamental to identity” and, that said group “is perceived as being different by the surrounding society.”

In this case the courts considered the social context in Nigeria, where FGM is highly prevalent, and accepted that non-excised children and teenagers constitute a social group. The Court concluded that the applicant must be considered as a member of the social group formed by young women who oppose female genital mutilation practiced in Nigeria. They considered the legitimacy of the threat against Miss E. and that rights to protection from the risk of persecution were supported by article L. 713-2 of the Code of the Entry and Stay of Foreigners and Asylum Law in France. The family’s geographical and ethnic background was considered, namely the real threat of excision that Miss E. would be subject to upon her return, as were all other girls in the family, and the rate of prevalence of excision – 41.6% - in the state of Edo, where Ms E. comes from.

Medical evidence was given to confirm Miss E. had not been excised and Ms. E.’s claims were checked for credibility against public records.

It was held that Miss E. sustained a credible threat of being excised were she to return to her country of origin, despite her mother’s opposition to the act. Their case was supported by the lack of protection available from state authorities and prospect of Ms. E.’s ostracism upon returning. 

Outcome: 

Refugee status was granted to Miss E, overturning the decision by Ofpra on 25 August 2016. 

Observations/Comments: 

This case summary was written by Sarah Thurmer, student at BPP University.

Other sources cited: 

“Female genital mutilation / excision” United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 2 July 2013

Nigeria – Demographic and Health Survey 2013

“Female genital cutting in southern urban and peri-urban Nigeria: self-reported validity, social determinants and secular decline” Tropical Medicine and International Health, January 2002.