BY JILLIAN VAN TURNHOUT
“The Children’s Rights Alliance today joins organisations, such as the Irish Refugee Council, in expressing our disappointment at the High Court judgement that has dismissed a legal challenge aimed at preventing the deportation of Pamela Izevbehkai and her two young daughters, Naomi and Jemima, who are both at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) if returned to Nigeria. We have been deeply moved by Pamela’s courageous account and her reasons for leaving her much loved husband and son in Nigeria: namely the horrific death of her eldest daughter after she was subjected to FGM.
We stand united with other organisations in our urgent call to the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD, that he use his discretion in granting Pamela, Naomi and Jemima the right to stay in Ireland. To send these two young girls back to an environment where they may be threatened with FGM, which has already claimed the life of an older sister, raises serious concerns about the Government’s commitment to children and is contrary to its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified in 1992. We will say it again: FGM is not a problem in some far away land that the Government can ignore; turning a blind eye to what is likely to befall these poor girls is unforgiveable.
Moreover, this case once again highlights that there is currently no explicit legal protection against FGM in Ireland; nor is there specific legislation to protect a child from being removed from Ireland to have the procedure carried out overseas. The Alliance has raised the need for action time and again; two years ago, in its Shadow Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Alliance asked that legislation be introduced to outlaw FGM. We are still waiting.”
Jillian van Turnhout
Notes to editors:
- Pamela Izevbehkai accounted her story on the Marian Finucane Show, RTE 1 Radio, on 22 November 2008.
The relevant Article from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child includes:
Article 19: States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
For further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087-7702845; Fax: (01) 662 9355