Reopened case – member of FNL party

Concerning Ms. M.E.N. vs. Denmark violation of CEDAW article 2 (d), 12 and 15.
The applicant was born on 1 July 1988 in Burundi. The author is a Burundian national, an ethnic Hutu and a Protestant. In 2008, she became a member of the party FNL, the opposition party to the government in Burundi, as her husband was also a member.

After the elections in 2010 where the CNDD party won, members of FNL including the applicant protested the elections, as they believed the election was rigged. Due to her involvement she received threatening letters and a grenade was also thrown into her house in May 2010. She decided to flee to Kibenga, but along the way she was gangraped by three men and she did not know who they were affiliated with. Eventually the applicant fled to Denmark.

The applicant’s asylum application was rejected. The Board accepted as a fact the evidence provided by the applicant. However, the Board found that her political involvement ranked her as a low-profile member, and incidents such as the grenade thrown into her house, cannot be assumed to be aimed specifically at the applicant or her spouse. As such the Board found that she would not be in risk of personal persecution if she was to return.

A complaint was sent to CEDAW on the 6th of October 2011 claiming that the deportation would be a violation of the applicants rights under CEDAW, as she would be in danger if she was to return. This claim was substantiated by a report by Amnesty International from 2010 on Burundi stating that “Levels of rape and other sexual violence against women and girls remain high.” However, on 26 July 2013 the Committee declared the communication inadmissible, as the decision by the Refugee Board found that there was no reason to believe the rape had anything to do with the applicant’s political conviction, and therefore did not provide evidence that she would be persecuted if she returned. However, the Board failed to recognize the rape as a separate gender-related persecution, not related to the political aspect. Hence, the Committee declared the communication inadmissible, as not all national remedies were used, since the Board’s decision did not specifically mention that there was no threat of gender-related persecution.

The case was requested reopening at the Refugee Board on 9 December 2013, this time explicitly stating that it would be a violation of CEDAW if the applicant was forcibly returned, and stating the risk of gender-related persecution. On 29 August 2013 the reopening of the case was rejected by the Refugee Board, on the grounds that no new information was added.
Consequently, a new complaint was sent to CEDAW on 26 September 2014, arguing that there has been a violation of article 2, d. CEDAW accepted the communication, however, the Danish authorities decided to reopen the case on 14 October 2016. This time the Danish authorities found that the author had sufficiently substantiated her claim. Thus On 6 February 2017, the author was granted residence permit by the Danish authorities. Thus the case was discontinued at the UNHCR.

29. June 2023

CEDAW 72/2014
  • Decision: 6 February 2017
  • Comm: Gender