France: Non-FGM Somalian children and adolescents form a social group under the Geneva Convention

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

On 4 November 2020, the French National Court of Asylum published its decision, in which it concluded that Somalian children and adolescent girls who are not subjected to FGM, constitute a social group under the Geneva Convention
‘A’ is a two-year-old Somalian girl who was represented by her parents during her application for asylum. Her parents come from different clans and allegedly escaped Somalia because A’s mother’s family did not approve of the marriage with A’s father. Furthermore, A’s mother was a victim of FGM, at the hands of her family.
The National Court held that A’s right to be heard was not complied with by the French authorities, given that only A’s father was briefly interviewed about the impact that a return could have on A. Furthermore, the Court underlined that FGM is almost universally practiced in Somalia, with 98% of girls and women between the age of 15 and 49 being subject to some form of FGM. Therefore, the Court concluded that FGM represented an objective social norm and that girls not subjected to FGM, constituted a social group. The Court attached particular importance to the fact that the mother had undergone a severe case of FGM and concluded that the adherence of A’s families to the practice exposed A to a real risk of being subjected to the same treatment. Finally, the Court assessed that, in case of a return, A’s parents would be entirely reliant on their families and would therefore not be able to oppose FGM practices on their daughter.
The Court concluded that A rightfully feared, in the sense of Article 1A (2) of the Convention, to be prosecuted in Somalia for pertaining to a social group, without being able to avail herself of the effective protection from the authorities. Therefore, the Court recognized her as a refugee.  

Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU Team.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Best interest of the child
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Persecution Grounds/Reasons
Personal interview