Following on from the case of Gavyrluk, we are pleased to announce that we were recently successful in the High Court case of Sambo –v- MJELR. Similar to the case of Gavryluk, the applicant, Ms. Sambo made an application for Subsidiary Protection and the Minister for Justice refused to exercise his discretion to process her application on the basis that she had failed to show changed circumstances from the time the Deportation order issued against her. We felt that the Minister was incorrect in his consideration of Ms. Sambo’s case just as in the case of Gavryluk and we instituted Judicial Review proceeding challenging the refusal of the Minister.
Ms. Sambo is a national of Nigeria who arrived in the State on 19 January 2005 and made an application for refugee status which was unsuccessful. A deportation order was made in respect of her in September 2005 and she later made a claim for subsidiary protection due to a risk, among other things, that under Article 15(c) of the Directive – that she would face a risk of serious and individual threat to her life by reason of indiscriminate violence due to the internal armed conflict in the Niger Delta region from where she fled.
Ms. Sambo is of Ijaw ethnicity and is a member of the Nembe Clan. The Applicant’s father was a chief of the clan who spoke out against the vandalising of oil pipelines by an armed criminal gang in the Niger Delta region as he felt it was his duty to do so. As a result, his house was attacked by the gang and her father was killed when a member of the gang hit him for speaking out against them. The Applicant’s sister was also killed when she was hit by a motorbike while trying to run away from the clash. Ms. Sambo boyfriend’s cousin was killed by the gang. The gang have threatened to kill Ms.Sambo.
Ms. Justice Clark delivered her judgement on the 22nd January 2010 in favour of the applicant. Applying the principles established in Hila and Djolo and Gavrylyuk and Bensaada, the Court found that there was an inadequate consideration of the applicant’s submissions that she would face indiscriminate violence by reason of the conflict in the Niger Delta region, which claim had not previously been considered by the Minister. Therefore Ms. Sambo was able to show a change in her circumstances from the time the Deportation order issued against her and her position was affected by the definition of “serious harm” introduced by Article 15(c) of European Directive in relation to a fear of “indiscriminate violence”.
The future: This case was good news for applicants who had deportation orders prior to October 2006 as it meant that if they could establish facts relating to a fear of indiscriminate violence in the region where they were from, the Minister was obliged to exercise his discretion to process their application.
However, the recent Supreme Court decision in Pamela Izebekhai now means that, contrary to what had previously been decided by the High Court, the Minister for Justice no longer has discretion to process applications for Subsidiary Protection from applicants with deportation orders after October 2006 even if changed circumstances have been established. Therefore our success in the Sambo case was short lived and this is ultimately very bad news for applicants with deportation orders going forward.