Saturday 22 October 2016

Child would be persecuted as a with if deported to Nigeria, mother tells court

Published 16/02/2016 | 17:02

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A SIX-YEAR-old girl with a serious bowel disease can have her refugee status application reconsidered after her Nigerian mother claimed the condition would expose her to persecution as a witch if deported.

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The child, who was born here, must have her application reconsidered by a different member of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) in line with his High Court findings, Mr Justice Robert Eagar said.

The mother had argued the RAT had failed to properly consider medical evidence and country of origin information.

It had concluded her daughter was not likely to be persecuted in Nigeria due to having Hirschprungs disease, a rare condition affecting bowel movements which, without appropriate treatment, can result in a swollen abdomen.

The mother also argued the child was at risk of rape, sexual abuse and female genital mutilation.

The RAT denied any errors in how the decision refusing refugee status was reached.

Mr Justice Eagar ruled it was "inappropriate" for the RAT member to make her own medical judgment, based on a single viewing of the child, of a "severe and complicated medical condition".

Because the child's abdomen was not distended on the single occasion she was observed, the RAT member had said she was not "convinced" the child would be vulnerable to being persecuted or branded a witch due to her disability, he said.

Making that decision in those circumstances did not take into account the weight of medical evidence the child has Hirschsrpungs disease, the judge said.

There was also evidence children with that condition need regular review by paediatric specialists and dieticians and that failure to control it can lead to severe constipation resulting in a distended abdomen, he said.

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