QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF C||(CLAIMANT)|
|IMMIGRATION APPEAL TRIBUNAL||(DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MISS J COLLIER (instructed by Treasury Solicitor, London SW1H 9JS) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"Her fear was on account of her membership of a social group, namely women in Moldova who are forced into prostitution against their will."
It is that alleged fear which forms the basis of the grounds of challenge argued before me. The same alleged fear formed the basis of her Article 3 claim. It was accepted by Mr Durance, that the fear to which her claim related must be a fear of being kidnapped, taken to another country, forced to be a prostitute and then being very vulnerable to being brutalised by those who kidnapped her or those to whom the kidnappers might sell her. It also became clear during the course of argument that the fear was not related to criminal gangs in general, but to the gang of four persons who had raped her in the forest.
"One of the men received a phone call on his mobile phone and I heard him say, 'We've got a client for Turkey'. At this time I was seated in the middle of the back seat of the car between two of the men, one of whom told me not to worry and that I would make money in Turkey."
Paragraph 10 reads:
"The men intended to take me to Bender and I was told that I would be shipped to Turkey to work, presumably as a prostitute. On route we stopped at a petrol station and I jumped from the car. I started screaming, 'police, police' and the men got into their car and drove away."
"When I was on the road near the petrol station when they were coming to try and grab me, they were on a mobile phone and I heard them saying that they had got somebody for prostitution in Turkey."
She went on to say that if she had not managed to get away then she was sure that they would have killed her.
"I was abducted, gang raped, sodomised, penetrated with a screwdriver causing serious internal injury, and finally driven away from the scene with the aim of transporting me to Turkey to work as an enslaved prostitute."
She stated also that she continued to receive threatening calls from her kidnappers whilst in the village. In paragraph 11 she said that she was threatened that they would find her wherever she went. In the skeleton argument prepared for the Adjudicator, the advocate wrote:
"She feared persecution for reasons associated with her membership of a social group, namely as a woman identified and abused for the purposes of illegal trafficking and prostitution."
"Still others are kidnapped and taken to other countries without ever consenting to travel."
"Some women are deceived, coerced, drugged or kidnapped before being trafficked for sex purposes."
There is a further reference to the fact that some trafficking victims are forced into prostitution through kidnapping. That reference is followed by an account of such events occurring to a young woman from the Ukraine (page 108). The Adjudicator accepted that trafficking women for prostitution overseas is an endemic problem in Moldova and the authorities, while they may have the intention to prevent it, are not very effective at doing so (paragraph 28). I note that whereas the report makes it clear that trafficking women for prostitution overseas is endemic, it does not put a figure on the number of people who are kidnapped. The report certainly suggests to me that most women find themselves forced to work as prostitutes abroad either because they have been deceived into going abroad for other employment, or alternatively because they have accepted to become prostitutes as a result of their economic situation and thereafter once abroad are treated brutally.
"She was not targeted for reasons of religious conviction or connection and is unlikely to be so targeted in the future. She was the victim of a crime but there was no state complicity in that crime. There is no reason to believe that the perpetrators of the crime would seek her out if she returned to Moldova. They did not do so for the time she remained in Moldova following the attack and was enquiring into the police investigations. The appellant lived for a time in Chisinau without any difficulties. There is nothing to suggest that she would have a problem if she were returned there."
"From the beginning of the attack to the time the police arrived was about 7 hours. The police attended and they took me to a doctor. A full medical examination established that I had been raped and buggered. I was given prescription for emergency contraception and various swabs and blood tests were taken from me for analysis."
In her interview she said:
"After I went to the hospital I went to the police station. I stayed there about half a day. First of all a policeman came. I told him my story. Then another policeman came and I told him exactly the same again. They said they would see what could be done. Afterwards I went back to see what had been done, they said they had no witnesses, no evidence and there was nothing more they could do. Then I went again after about four or five days and they still said that they had not been able to find anything out, they didn't know who it was."
"After I was attacked I went to the police but I still continued to receive threatening phone calls from my kidnappers. I reported these calls to the police but no satisfactory investigation was ever undertaken."
" . . . what is critical is a combination of willingness and an ability to provide protection to the level that can reasonably be expected to meet and overcome the real risk of harm from non-state agents. What is reasonable protection in any case, depends therefore, on the level of the risk, without that protection, for which it has to provide."
"There was nothing in Ground 4, because the evidence does not establish that the applicant came to the attention of women traffickers at all."
In the absence of a finding of fact against the claimant, it seems to me that this is not a good reason for rejecting Ground 4. However for the reasons which I have set out, there was no real prospect of an appeal on Ground 4 succeeding, given the findings of fact made by the Adjudicator as to the manner in which the claimant's case was handled in Moldova immediately following the attack and in the period thereafter until her departure.