Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law
How important are FGM Protection Orders in asylum claims?
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Readers may be forgiven for thinking that, where the Family Court finds that a person is at risk of female genital mutilation and makes a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order (FGMPO), it will feed into the asylum consideration process. Not so. Or, perhaps more accurately, not necessarily so.
It all depends, as explained in GW (FGM and FGMPOs) Sierra Leone CG  UKUT 108 (IAC), on three factors:
- the extent to which the Family Court’s assessment “maps over” the same or similar factual issues to those in the asylum claim,
- the extent and cogency of the Family Court’s reasons, and
- the similarity of the evidence before the Family Court and immigration tribunal.
The case concerned two appellants from Sierra Leone and the Gambia. The first appellant, GW, was the subject of an FGMPO, as were the minor children of the second appellant, FM.
The Upper Tribunal found that two First-tier judges had erred in attaching no weight to the FGMPOs in GW’s case, which had been made following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service and a substantive hearing before a High Court judge. But in FM’s case, the tribunal found that no weight could be given to the FGMPO as it had been based on the “thinnest conceivable evidential basis”, and without reasons.
This was the first case to bear directly on the issue of the significance to be attached to FGMPOs in immigration proceedings (the obverse of the situation considered in SSHD v Suffolk  EWCA Civ 731, on the relevance of immigration tribunal findings on FGM in the Family Court). The judgment contains a helpful summary of the relationship between the family courts, the Home Office immigration decision-making process and both chambers of the immigration tribunal.
The tribunal also took the opportunity to provide the first country guidance on FGM and women in Sierra Leone, reproduced below.
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