Key Nigerian Country Guidance case strengthens protection for trafficked women

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Coinciding with Anti-Slavery Day 2016 the Upper Tribunal have promulgated new country guidance relating to victims of trafficking in Nigeria following the case of HD(Trafficked Women) Nigeria CG [2016] UKUT 00454 (IAC). Kathryn Cronin and Bijan Hoshi of Garden Court Chambers were HD's counsel.

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Upper Tribunal judges Coker and Frances held:

1. The guidance set out in PO (trafficked women) Nigeria [2009] UKAIT 00046 at paragraphs 191-192 should no longer be followed.

2. Although the Government of Nigeria recognises that the trafficking of women, both internally and transnationally, is a significant problem to be addressed, it is not established by the evidence that for women in general in Nigeria there is a real risk of being trafficked.

3. For a woman returning to Nigeria, after having been trafficked to the United Kingdom, there is in general no real risk of retribution or of being trafficked afresh by her original traffickers.

4. Whether a woman returning to Nigeria having previously been trafficked to the United Kingdom faces on return a real risk of being trafficked afresh will require a detailed assessment of her particular and individual characteristics. Factors that will indicate an enhanced risk of being trafficked include, but are not limited to:

a. The absence of a supportive family willing to take her back into the family unit;

b. Visible or discernible characteristics of vulnerability, such as having no social support network to assist her, no or little education or vocational skills, mental health conditions, which may well have been caused by experiences of abuse when originally trafficked, material and financial deprivation such as to mean that she will be living in poverty or in conditions of destitution;

c. The fact that a woman was previously trafficked is likely to mean that she was then identified by the traffickers as someone disclosing characteristics of vulnerability such as to give rise to a real risk of being trafficked. On returning to Nigeria, it is probable that those characteristics of vulnerability will be enhanced further in the absence of factors that suggest otherwise. 

 5. Factors that indicate a lower risk of being trafficked include, but are not limited to:

 a. The availability of a supportive family willing to take the woman back into the family unit;

b. The fact that the woman has acquired skills and experiences since leaving Nigeria that better equip her to have access to a livelihood on return to Nigeria, thus enabling her to provide for herself.

6. There will be little risk of being trafficked if received into a NAPTIP shelter or a shelter provided by an NGO for the time that she is there, but that support is likely to be temporary, possibly for just a few weeks, and there will need to be a careful assessment of the position of the woman when she leaves the shelter.

7. For a woman who does face a real risk of being trafficked if she returns to her home area, the question of whether internal relocation will be available as a safe and reasonable alternative that will not be unduly harsh will require a detailed assessment of her particular circumstances. For a woman who discloses the characteristics of vulnerability described above that are indicative of a real risk of being trafficked, internal relocation is unlikely to be a viable alternative.

The guidance builds on the approach taken by the Tribunal in the Albanian cases of AM and BM (Trafficked women) Albania CG [2010] UKUT 80 (IAC) and TD and AD (Trafficked Women) CG [2016] UKUT 92 (IAC) to focus on the sustainability of support, individual vulnerability and the period of time after a woman leaves any shelter or ceases to be supported. Importantly, the Tribunal recognised that where a woman is vulnerable to trafficking the vulnerability is likely to persist throughout the country such that internal relocation is unlikely to be a viable alternative.

Kathryn Cronin and Bijan Hoshi of Garden Court Chambers and Matthew Moriarty of Luqmani Thompson and Partners were HD’s counsel.

Milla Walker of Luqmani Thompson and Partners was her solicitor.

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