Northern Ireland

Irish judge's ruling on pregnant Pakistani asylum seeker

A High Court judge in Dublin has ruled that an eight-months pregnant Pakistani woman seeking asylum in the Irish Republic cannot be transferred by sea or air to the UK.

However, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said she could be transferred to Northern Ireland by road.

This was on the understanding that she will not be removed from the island of Ireland while awaiting the birth.

Rizwana Aslam, 27, arrived in the Irish Republic via the UK in February.

She applied for asylum, claiming that as a member of the Ahmadi faith, she would face religious persecution in Pakistan.

In September, she was told she would be transferred to the UK to apply for asylum there as it was her original point of entry into Europe.

Two months later she got a temporary injunction preventing her transfer on the grounds that she had entered a proxy marriage with a Pakistani man, Fakherr Udin, who has refugee status in Ireland.

In a written judgement handed down on Thursday, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said that while Rizwana Aslam was not technically married under Irish law, she could be considered married under regulations governing asylum.

However, the case was complicated by her declaration that she was single in her original asylum application.

Mr Justice Hogan ruled it was too late for her to claim asylum in the Irish Republic on the basis of her proxy marriage.

The Irish state had sought to transfer her to the UK by ferry, but Mr Justice Hogan said that would represent a test of endurance which no heavily pregnant woman should face.

He said she could be transferred to the UK by road to Northern Ireland.