France - CNDA, 29 July 2011, Miss O., n°10020534

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
29-07-2011
Citation:
Cour nationale du droit d’asile, 29 juillet 2011, Mlle O., n°10020534
Court Name:
National Asylum Court/Cour nationale du droit d’asile (CNDA)
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Headnote: 

Young Nigerian women, especially those coming from the region of Benin City (State of Edo), who were forced to prostitute themselves in Europe in a transnational network of human trafficking, and who managed to extricate themselves from this network and to stop this forced activity, should not be seen as members of a particular social group in Nigeria. However, they face inhuman or degrading treatment in case of return to their country of origin and should therefore be granted subsidiary protection.

Facts: 

Miss O. comes from Wali, in the Delta State, Nigeria. She opposed a forced marriage and FGM that her mother in law wanted to impose her. She escaped from the family house and met a woman who offered her work in Europe as a hairdresser. She ended up in Spain where she was forced to prostitute herself for several months before she fled to France.

The French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra) rejected her asylum application. She challenged this decision before the National Asylum Court (Cour nationale du droit d’asile, CNDA).

Decision & Reasoning: 

The CNDA firstly assessed the case in light of the refugee definition and cited the provisions of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention and of Article 10.1(d) of the Qualification Directive.

The CNDA considered that the facts relating to the fear of being subjected to a forced marriage and to FGM were not established.

Regarding the fear linked to prostitution, the CNDA considered that young Nigerian women, especially those coming from the region of Benin City (State of Edo), who were forced to prostitute themselves in Europe, and in particular in France, in a transnational network of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and who managed to extricate themselves from this network and to stop this forced activity, should not be seen as members of a particular social group in Nigeria which would possess its own identity because it was perceived as different by Nigerian society and, consequently, subjected as such to specific persecution. The CNDA referred in particular to the fact that Nigerian authorities signed and ratified in 2001 and 2002 the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocol (Palermo Protocol), passed legislation in 2003 punishing trafficking in persons and enacted in 2006 a National Action Plan against trafficking. The Court also recalled that Nigerian authorities organised awareness raising and prevention campaigns, and prosecuted and sentenced a number of traffickers.

In this context, the CNDA considered that the applicant could not, on the ground of her membership of a particular social group, be recognised as a refugee.

The CNDA then assessed the case in light of the definition of subsidiary protection and cited the provisions of Article L.712-1 Ceseda.

The CNDA considered that the facts relating to prostitution were established. The Court found that, given her personal and family situation, the applicant could not avail herself of the effective protection of the authorities of her country of origin.

The CNDA concluded that the applicant should be considered as facing, in her country of origin and by members of the network which brought her to Spain and to which she still owed a lot of money, one of the serious threats mentioned under Article L.712-1 b) Ceseda [inhuman or degrading treatment].

Outcome: 

The applicant was granted subsidiary protection.

Observations/Comments: 

In this decision, the CNDA assesses the case firstly in light of the refugee definition and then in light of the definition of subsidiary protection. On the first aspect (refugee status), the Court excludes the persecution ground of membership of a particular social group for victims of prostitution originating from the State of Edo in Nigeria, contrary to a previous decision (well reasoned) of another judgment section of the CNDA (cf. CNDA, 29 avril 2011, Mlle E., n°10012810, also summarised in this database. The CNDA nevertheless considers that a serious threat (within the meaning of subsidiary protection) exists, without however giving any criteria for the definition of inhuman or degrading treatment.

Other sources cited: 

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

2003 Nigerian law punishing trafficking in persons and creating the National agency for the prohibition of trafficking in persons (NAPTIP)

2006 National Action Plan against Trafficking.