[Sinn Fein]

10th September 2002

Sinn Fein TDs endorse call for stay of deportation

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has announced that the Sinn Fein TDs in Leinster House have backed the Union of Students in Ireland in their call on Justice Minister Michael McDowell to reverse the deportation order against the Onasanwo family. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``We have a number of serious human rights concerns about Nigeria, and the practice of Female Genital Mutilation is among them. The Onasanwo girls, aged 18 and 6, face this procedure if returned to Nigeria. Not all women and girls survive these procedures. Those who do rarely escape both immediate and long-term health complications. The girls' mother quite rightly fears for her children's health and safety if forced to return to Nigeria and has sought refuge in Ireland in order to protect them.

``Female Genital Mutilation is an issue of women's human rights. Article 2 of the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 1995 Beijing Declaration have defined Female Genital Mutilation as an act of violence against women. Arguably, the Nigerian state is unable or unwilling to protect girls and women at risk. Ireland therefore has a duty to uphold women's human rights in this case and protect the Onasanwo girls from this fate.

``Fear of persecution on the grounds of gender is a recognised basis for claiming Convention refugee status. At the very least, the threat these girls face should allow the family to remain in Ireland on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Sinn Fein therefore unreservedly join the USI in calling on the Minister to exercise his discretion in this case and stay the deportation of the Onasanwo family.'' ENDS

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