Directive opt-in means Ireland is on road to asylum reform, conference hears
2018-04-01 17:03:00 -

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has said Ireland is on the road to reforming its treatment of people seeking refuge, following its decision to participate in the EU’s Reception Conditions Directive.


“Ireland is making a strong and welcome commitment to the humane treatment of asylum-seekers with its decision to opt in” to the directive, said ECRE secretary general Catherine Woollard.


Addressing a recent Dublin conference which aimed to promote the rights of asylum seekers, Woollard said the directive “sets out legal standards for reception and detention conditions, covering provision of accommodation and an adequate standard of living among other issues. It is thus a real opportunity for reform and improvement of conditions.”


Participants at the conference, jointly hosted by the ECRE and Irish Refugee Council, included academic experts and practitioners from Ireland and the EU looking to learn about the scope and implications of the directive for people seeking asylum in Ireland.


The event was also intended to inform the Government’s implementation of the different elements within the directive, including detention, access to employment, material reception conditions such as Ireland’s direct provision system, and early identification and reception of vulnerable applicants, including children.


“The decision to opt in to the directive came after the Supreme Court decision on the right to work for people in the asylum process, but the scope of the directive goes far beyond this,” said Nick Henderson, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council.


“The directive requires that human dignity and the best interests of the child be applied to all decisions concerning accommodation and support, and that people have the right of appeal against a decision to reduce or withdraw these services.


“It also requires that vulnerable people with special reception needs, for example minors, survivors of torture, or people who have experienced sexual violence, are identified as soon as possible so that suitable accommodation and supports are provided.”


Henderson said the Irish Refugee Council and the ECRE have made a submission to Government which not only looks at these issues but “sets out a human rights-based approach to implementation of the directive”.


“Ireland has an opportunity to demonstrate best practice in a number of areas, including material reception conditions, family life, and an accessible right to work for people seeking refuge,” he added.



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