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Legal battle to stop Home Office dispatching a 10-year-old for female genital mutilation


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The High Court has granted a Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order in the case of a 10-year-old girl who the Home Office is trying to remove to Bahrain. The case is A (A child) (Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order Application) [2020] EWHC 323 (Fam).

A has lived in the UK since the age of three but her parents both have family ties to the North Kordofan region of Sudan, where 98% of girls are subjected to genital mutilation. A’s father is in a military prison in Bahrain. A’s mother is in the UK but her claim for asylum, partly based on the FGM risk to A, was rejected by the Home Office and all appeals have failed.

It appears that the Home Office proposes to remove A and her mother to Bahrain. But Mr Justice Newton found that 

The family status in Bahrain is… dependant on the father. It is likely that he and consequently the family will be required to leave Bahrain. Thus, I conclude that it is more likely than not that A is unlikely to remain in Bahrain, and would ultimately finish up in Sudan.

Once in Sudan, the court found, A would be “overwhelmingly” at risk of mutilation. Her father supports it, the extended family demand it, her mother has post traumatic stress disorder and “does not have the resolve or standing to protect A from family pressure regarding FGM”.

Two of A’s aunts have died as a direct result of genital mutilation. A’s mother survived the procedure but has “suffered lifelong serious consequences”.

Newton J concluded:

It is difficult to think of a clearer or more serious case where the risk to A of FGM is so high. I find without hesitation overwhelmingly that there is a high risk of FGM to A, and I accordingly make the order sought.

What good is this order to A? Newton J records that “any order made here will be of no effect either in Bahrain or Sudan”. So the only hope is that it can keep her in the UK.

But the President of the Family Division has previously found that family judges have no jurisdiction to prevent someone being removed from the UK under immigration powers. The most they can do is ask the Home Office nicely to reconsider the removal decision in light of a protection order. That case was A (A Child: Female Genital Mutilation: Asylum) [2019] EWHC 2475 (Fam), reported on Free Movement as Family courts have no power to prevent removal of children at risk of FGM abroad.

Counsel for A’s mother, Dr Charlotte Proudman, told Free Movement that the case has already been heard in the Court of Appeal and a judgment from that court is awaited.

There is more information available via the BBC and Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.