The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal on behalf of a four-year-old girl who it was claimed would be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) if she had to go to Nigeria following her mother's failed application for refugee status.
Separate asylum applications for her two daughters, based on fears of FGM, were also refused. The mother came here in 2005 and applied for asylum. Her youngest daughter was born here in late 2010.
It was claimed if they had to return to Nigeria, the mother would come under pressure from family and neighbours to put her daughter through FGM and defiance would result in unpleasant consequences from a magic practitioner know as “the Mascurate”.
A Refugee Applications Commissioner (RAC) refused asylum and the mother later sought to challenge the decision in relation to the now four-year-old daughter in the High Court.
However, Mr Justice John Cooke refused leave saying an appeal to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) was the appropriate remedy rather than judicial review. That decision was appealed by the mother. The Minister for Justice and the State opposed the appeal.
In court, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, on behalf of a five-judge Supreme Court, rejected the mother's argument that the High Court was incorrect in striking out the application seeking judicial review.
The judge said a full opportunity was given to the mother to argue a fear of persecution in relation to FGM in her application to the RAC.
An analysis of that contention took place in the context of a fair and thorough consideration of the credibility of the evidence and other materials put forward, he said.
Findings of fact were made against her by the RAC and this decision was affirmed by the RAT.
Any consideration as to whether the High Court judge was or was not correct was therefore moot, Mr Justice Charleton said.
The judge also ruled the child and her mother were entitled to anonymity in bringing the case as they had applied for refugee status.