Belgium: Council for Aliens Law Litigation rules on FGM risk to Guinean child

Friday, March 13, 2015

The case relates to an appeal against a decision taken by the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) to not accord refugee status to a Guinean child on grounds that it was not credible she had been forced into a marriage nor that there was a risk of her undergoing a second circumcision if returned to Guinea.

Appealing against this decision to the Council of Aliens Law Litigation (CALL) the Council, referring to UNHCR guidelines on procedures and criteria for determining refugee status, firstly held that in cases concerning children a prudent attitude should be adopted and it may be necessary to have greater regard to certain objective factors as well as a liberal application of the benefit of the doubt. On the facts of the case, then, and separately from the question of whether the applicant had been forced to marry, the CALL, referring to medical documentation, advanced that the applicant had, in fact, not undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Indeed, the CALL goes on to note that the risk presented to the applicant who had not been circumcised cannot be dismissed given her particular vulnerability as a result of her age and her family situation. In this regard the CALL, noting the irreversible harm FGM presents to women, further notes that the practice of FGM in Guinea is at an extremely high level. As a result there is a significant objective risk, if not quasi-certitude in some cases, that those who are yet to undergo FGM will be subjected to it.

Thus, the CALL surmises that in light of the established facts of the case, notably the child’s age, her Peul ethnicity, and that all of the women in her family had undergone FGM, as well as the religion and ethnicity of her father, the risk posed to the applicant constitutes a well-founded fear of persecution. The CALL thus accords the applicant with refugee status in compliance with Article 1A (2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Based on an ELENA unofficial translation.

The ELENA Weekly Legal Update would like to thank Cécile Ghymers for notifying us of this decision. 

13 March 2015
This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.



Benefit of doubt
Child Specific Considerations
Female genital mutilation
Medical Reports/Medico-legal Reports
Refugee Status