Tribunal ordered to reconsider protection application by woman who claims father wanted to use her in ritual sacrifice

International Protection Appeals Tribunal had found claim by native of Botswana lacked credibility

The High Court has ruled that an international protection application by a woman from Botswana, who claims her father wants to kill her and use her body parts in a ritual sacrifice, must be reconsidered.

The woman, who came to Ireland in 2022 and cannot be named for legal reasons, saw her application for international protection rejected by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (Ipat), which said various aspects of the narrative lacked credibility.

However, Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty quashed the tribunal’s decision on the basis that the grounds for rejecting the application had not been properly and fully explained to the woman. The woman had challenged the Ipat’s finding by way of High Court judicial review proceedings.

In her decision, the judge held there was “a combination of factors” that persuaded the court the tribunal’s view must be revisited. She said it had rejected aspects of the applicant’s accounts of certain events “without specifically explaining” why it was not credible. The judge said medical evidence in support of the woman’s claim was also rejected but no explanation was given.


The judge noted that the woman, a university graduate, claims that more than a decade ago when she was in her teens, her father wanted to become a tribal chief. She claims she overheard her father, described as a violent, psychotic man prone to alcohol abuse, on a telephone call saying that he wanted to “use her body parts in a ritual sacrifice” as part of his campaign to become a chief.

The judge said “crucial to an Irish understanding and assessment of this narrative” is the fact that this kind of sacrifice is not only historically associated with some tribes in Botswana, there was information before the tribunal that the practice of using human body parts for tribal rituals was continuing at the relevant time.

The judge said the woman claimed that, while taking a drive in 2012, her father banged her head off the car’s steering wheel. This caused her to drive off the road and she claims her father then attempted to strangle her. She did not report this to the police as her father is an important man and she feared she would be told it was “a tribal matter”.

She also associated other incidents, including being followed and attacked in her university accommodation by an unknown individual and the theft of her laptop computer, with her father.

Five years ago, she claims, two of her friends were killed when a car in which she was travelling as a passenger was run off the road by another vehicle. She accepts that she did not tell the police that she believed her father was involved in that incident, for which she felt terrible guilt. Fearing for her safety, she left Botswana and sought protection in Ireland.

The woman claimed her mental health had been badly affected by these events, resulting in her suffering from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. The judge said the tribunal’s treatment of a medical report and its conclusions led her to the view that either the report was not considered at all before the credibility finding was made and was then “read so as to chime more harmoniously with that finding”.

The judge added that if the report was read in advance of that finding, its implications for the assessment of the applicant’s credibility were not appreciated, or the rules concerning the assessment of expert evidence were not applied by the decision maker, or both.

Given the circumstances, the judge said she was quashing the Ipat’s decision to refuse the woman’s application for international protection and remitted the matter to the tribunal for reconsideration.