Ireland - High Court, 14 January 2010, Obuseh v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2010] IEHC 93

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Headnote: 

This case concerned the appropriate manner in which an application for subsidiary protection is to be decided where there may be at least an implicit claim of a “serious and individual threat” to the applicant by reason of indiscriminate violence. The Court found that Article 15(c) of the Directive does not impose a free-standing obligation on the Minister to investigate a possible armed conflict situation, it is for the applicant to make this claim and to make submissions and offer evidence establishing that he is from a place where there is a situation of international of internal armed conflict, and that he is at risk of serious harm by reason of indiscriminate violence.

Facts: 

The applicant was from Nigeria and claimed asylum in Ireland on the basis of a fear of persecution because of his membership of the Delta Youth Movement, an armed militant group. The applicant admitted that, whilst a member of the Movement, he had killed a soldier guarding a pipeline. The applicant’s claim for asylum was refused principally due to negative credibility findings. An application for subsidiary protection was refused by the Minister, a refusal which was challenged on the basis that the Minister had misapplied the Qualification Directive in that he had failed to investigate or consider adequately whether there would exist a “serious individual threat” to the applicant’s life or person within the meaning of Article 15 of the Directive. In particular, the applicant claimed that the Minister had failed to consider whether well documented violence in Niger Delta amounted to an internal armed conflict in which the applicant would be at risk of indiscriminate violence within the meaning of Article 15 (c).

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Court noted that it was difficult to envisage any circumstances where an asylum applicant who is found not credible as to the existence of a well-founded fear of persecution will be granted subsidiary protection on exactly the same facts and submissions.

An applicant seeking to rely on Article 15 (c)of the Qualification Directive (which would not be covered by the Refugee application) must do so explicitly and must show that he faces a serious and individual threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict, that state protection would not be available to him and that he could not reasonably be expected to stay in another part of the country of origin where there is no real risk of suffering serious harm.

It follows that if a person who claims to face such danger cannot establish that he is from a place where there is a situation of international of internal armed conflict, or that such a situation actually exists, and further cannot show why he could not reasonably be expected to relocate, then he will not be eligible for such protection.

The applicant in this case furnished no particulars, documentation, information or evidence in relation to a threat from armed conflict.

The Court found that Minister does not have a free-standing obligation to investigate whether a person is eligible for protection within the meaning of Article 15 (c) when that person has not identified the risk to his life or person. While the Minister is mandated by Article 4 of the Qualification Directive to consider up to date information on the conditions on the ground in the applicant’s country of origin, this is far from imposing a free-standing obligation to go beyond that information and to investigate whether the applicant faces any unclaimed and unidentified risk. 

Outcome: 

Judicial Review reliefs sought by the applicant refused. The Minister’s decision stands.