Human rights lawyers have launched a scathing attack on the house Office for failing to grant asylum to an 11-year-old girl found by judges to be at high risk of female genital mutilation if faraway from Britain.
The girl, who is flourishing at college and only speaks English, was delivered to the united kingdom in 2012 by her mother, herself a victim of what’s referred to as type 3 FGM whose two sisters died after being cut in their native Sudan.
Charlotte Proudman, a barrister on the mother’s legal team, has accused the house Office of hypocrisy in digging its heels in over the case and says its unwillingness to guard the girl makes a mockery of FGM protection orders, designed to prevent those in danger being taken abroad.
Her comments come after Priti Patel, the house secretary, mounted a costly legal challenge round the family court’s role in risk assessing the girl, which was dismissed during a landmark case at the court of appeal on 15 June.
Proudman, who specialises in cases of gender-based violence, said: “It is appalling and shameful the house secretary is wasting taxpayers’ money to attain points around policy yet amid the political jostling is ready to risk the effective torture of this girl.
“With one hand the department is pursuing FGM prosecutions in Britain. With the opposite it’s sending girls abroad to urge cut, just because they’re not British.”
The mother’s claim for asylum was rejected after officials deemed she lacked credibility. But it later transpired through domestic relations court proceedings she was a reliable – albeit highly traumatised – witness.
Proudman said: “This woman is that the most vulnerable client I’ve seen during a decade. regardless of her assessment, her child shouldn’t be punished for her immigration status. I’m deeply concerned the house Office is making unsafe decisions leaving children in danger of harm or maybe death.”
The single mother, who brought her daughter to Britain to guard her from FGM, exhausted her appeal rights in 2018 and was given notice of the family’s removal to Bahrain where they lived before coming to the united kingdom .
The day before she was thanks to board a plane, Suffolk administration obtained an FGM protection order, preventing the girl’s departure.
Court documents explain the family were likely to be directed from Bahrain, where their citizenship has expired, back to Sudan. they’re from North Kordofan state where the prevalence of FGM is 97.7%. Three of the girl’s cousins are known to possess been cut.
After a series of hearings, Justice Newton concluded: “It is difficult to consider a more serious case where the danger to [the girl] of FGM is so high.”
Yet Patel launched an appeal claiming that the immigration court’s risk assessment of overseas FGM – “that there was no substantial grounds for believing there was a true risk” – should are the start line within the domestic relations court .
A court of appeal judge found the house secretary “misses the point” because assessing risk is different within the domestic relations court where the child’s welfare is central to inquiries – instead of simply being the dependent of an adult making a claim.
Proudman said: “They don’t have children’s guardians within the immigration courts and this girl’s vulnerabilities weren’t properly considered. If it weren’t for Suffolk administration she would are on a plane.”
She added: “I work on tons of those cases and not all local authorities are this proactive. This case shows how dangerous it’s counting on the immigration courts to try to made decisions about the danger of FGM.”
Nuala Mole, founding father of the AIRE Centre, a London-based legal charity, insists the govt features a duty to guard vulnerable children from FGM. She said the strain between the 2 legal orders highlighted the necessity for a fanatical service within the immigration courts.
She said: “For the family courts considering whether to form an FGM protection order, the child’s welfare is paramount. It trumps everything else. the kid is represented and has her own voice. In immigration proceedings the child’s interests don’t take precedence over other issues.
Mole added: “Most significantly, the kid isn’t normally represented or heard. that’s why we’ve been posing for years for a fanatical immigration court for youngsters to be established.”
The Home Office said it didn’t discuss specific cases. A government spokesperson said: “Female genital mutilation (FGM) is abuse which causes extreme and lifelong physical and psychological suffering to women and girls and that we won’t tolerate it.
“We share the eagerness of these who want to finish FGM and can still work closely with them, and repose on what we’ve already done to eradicate this terrible practice once and for all.”