Written Answers. - Refugee Protection.

Ray Burke

Question:

12 Mr. R. Burke asked the Minister for Justice her views on whether the guarantee of protection in the Refugee Act, 1996, to persecuted persons whose defining characteristic is that they belong to the female sex, is adequate protection for female refugees in view of the fact that 80 per cent of the world's refugees are women and children; her views on whether guidelines on gender-related persecution must be drawn up and implemented without delay; and the progress, if any, being made in addressing gender-based persecution as a human rights issue. [7468/97]

The definition of "refugee" as set out in section 2 of the Refugee Act, 1996 follows the wording of Article 1 of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees and it includes persecution because of membership of a particular social group. In fact we have gone a stage further and have amplified the definition by an explanatory provision at section 1 of the Act to the effect that membership of a particular social group includesinter alia membership of a group of persons whose defining characteristic is their belonging to the female or male sex.

I consider that this amplified definition is adequate to ensure that persons seeking refugee status in the State on the basis of gender related persecution will receive a fair and compassionate hearing. I am sure that the Refugee Applications Commissioner will ensure that his or her guidelines will cover this issue adequately.