Domestic violence asylum claim inadmissible (M.P.M. v. Canada)

M.P.M., a Mexican national, sought asylum in Canada in 2006.  M.P.M. claimed that she was entitled to asylum because she is a victim/survivor of domestic violence and was seeking to escape her abusive ex-husband, a Mexican police officer.

Canadian authorities dismissed M.P.M.’s claim on the basis that she had failed to establish that she was a refugee, within the meaning of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.  Authorities concluded that M.P.M. had falsely claimed to be a victim/survivor of domestic violence in order to obtain asylum in Canada and failed to provide credible and consistent evidence to support a claim of asylum.  An application for judicial review and a separate application for a pre-removal risk assessment were also dismissed.

M.P.M. did not file an application to prevent her deportation on humanitarian and compassionate grounds because of the low success and cost of such applications.  In addition, she believed that Canadian authorities would dismiss such an application, since it would be based on the same arguments included in her previous unsuccessful applications.

M.P.M. subsequently submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee) in which she claimed, inter alia, that there were substantial grounds for believing that her life and safety were at real risk if deported to Mexico.  M.P.M. submitted that Canada had violated articles 2(c), 2(d) and 3 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by discriminating against her in her asylum claim and failing to ensure equal protection of her rights.  In addition, she submitted that the failure of Canadian authorities to take her vulnerable situation fully into account constituted a violation of article 15 concerning equality in legal and civil matters.  M.P.M. also claimed that Canada had violated article 16 of equality in marriage and family relations, but she failed to identify the basis of that claim.

M.P.M. returned to Mexico voluntarily in 2010 after submitting her communication to the Committee.

Canada’s observations on admissibility

Canada challenged the admissibility of the communication under articles 4(1), 4(2)(b) and 4(2)(c) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Optional Protocol).

First, it claimed that the voluntary return of M.P.M. to Mexico rendered her claim that Canada would violate her rights in CEDAW if it deported her to Mexico moot.  Second, it claimed M.P.M. had not exhausted all available domestic remedies and had failed to raise the substance of her claim of sex discrimination before national authorities, as required by article 4(1) of the Optional Protocol.  Third, similar to its arguments in Guadalupe Herrera Rivera v Canada, the State Party argued that the communication was incompatible under article 4(2)(b) of the Protocol, as the aforementioned provisions of CEDAW do not guarantee a right not to be deported and CEDAW does not apply extraterritorially.  Fourth, Canada claimed that its authorities had determined that there was no merit to M.P.M.’s claim and she had failed to submit new evidence to the Committee to support her claim.  Last, Canada claimed that the failure of M.P.M to demonstrate that its system for processing asylum claims was ineffective rendered her communication insufficiently substantiated under article 4(2)(c) of the Protocol.

Committee’s admissibility decision

The Committee concluded that the communication was ill-founded and not sufficiently substantiated and, thus, declared it inadmissible under article 4(2)(c) of the Optional Protocol.  In doing so, it noted the voluntary return of M.P.M. to Mexico, her failure to explain her return to the Committee or follow-up her communication, the absence of any reports of violence since her return to Mexico, and her failure to provide new evidence to the Committee to substantiate her claim.  Having declared the communication inadmissible on this basis, the Committee declined to consider Canada’s other objections to the admissibility of the communication.

Communication No. 25/2010, UN Doc. CEDAW/C/51/D/25/2010 (13 April 2012)


* This summary was prepared using an unofficial English translation of the decision.  Please check against the Committee’s decision for accuracy.