Nigerian woman challenges refugee law


A Nigerian woman who has challenged the constitutionality of a section of the 1996 Refugee Act told the High Court yesterday she fled to Ireland four years ago to avoid persecution, both of a religious and political nature, in her native country.

Ms Margaret Moni Jonathon, who has five children in Nigeria, said her father was connected with the Ogboni fraternity in Nigeria which has been described as a cult which practises voodooism. Ms Jonathon said she was also persecuted for her membership of the Nigerian Social Democratic Party.

Yesterday was the second day of her challenge to Section 19 of the 1996 Refugee Act. It provides that, in judicial review proceedings taken by asylum seekers, the identity of the applicant can only be publicised if the applicant and the Minister for Justice give their consent. It was activated in November 2000, having previously being dormant. Ms Jonathon claims Section 19 conflicts with the constitutional rights to communicate and freedom of expression set out in Articles 34 and 40.