Judges of the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) sitting in Karlsruhe/Photo: Wikipedia/ Bundesarchiv/ Schaack, Lothar / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Germany’s highest court rules in favour of African asylum-seeker

The appeal of a woman from Mauritania against her denied asylum request in Germany should not have been rejected, Germany’s highest court has ruled. The woman claimed to be born into a rigid caste system, Benjamin Bathke reports.

The appeal against the rejection of the asylum request of a woman from Mauritania should not have been declined, and the woman’s claim that she is threatened with slavery in her home country should have been examined.

That’s what Germany’s highest court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) ruled on Wednesday (14 October), agreeing with the woman’s constitutional complaint.

The BVerfG ruled that the woman’s asylum request, which she submitted in 2016, was “patently well-founded” considering her status as the descendant of members of the slave caste within the Fulani people. With a total population of some 25 million, the Fulani people are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel region and western Africa.


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German news agency dpa reported that the woman had argued before a lower court that “as a single woman without an education or documentation, she would not have been able to survive in Mauritania without becoming a slave in someone’s household.”

Rigid case system

According to a statement about the case on the website of the Bundesverfassungsgericht, the Mauritanian told Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) during a personal hearing that she received no formal education and was “gifted” to her aunt as a child.

BAMF, however, rejected her asylum request. Then, an administrative court rejected her appeal, ruling against an application for deportation ban.

Now, however, the BVerfG found that based on sources provided by the asylum-seeker, “members of former slave castes, especially women, in Mauritania are still affected by extreme poverty and an existence-threatening exclusion from society.”

It also ruled that another court not only violated the woman’s right to a fair hearing, it also did not examine her special circumstances in an observable manner.

The Fulani people, the majority of whom live in Nigeria, are divided into a rigid caste system that dates back to medieval times. Nobility, traders, tradespeople and the descendants of slaves make up the caste system. The plaintiff said she is a member of the latter group.

© InfoMigrant

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