Reviewing the International Protection Bill 2015: Part 3
2016-03-01 15:35:14 -
Human Rights
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Waheed Mudah

 

Following interview by an authorised officer, a report of the examination and determination of a given application for international protection shall be prepared by the officer, setting out whether the applicant should be granted refugee or subsidiary protection declaration or be given neither. 

A novel introduction in the International Protection bill is that an applicant can request from authorised officer a time frame within which their application shall be determined, failing determination within six months of the application. This undoubtedly will ensure that applications are dealt with in a timely manner, unlike the current system where some applications could take years before recommendations at first instance are made. 

Where the determination of the authorised officer at first instance is positive, the notification to the applicant contains the statement of fact of a successful application. On the other hand, if the recommendation is negative for both refugee status and subsidiary protection, the officer is obliged to provide copy of their report, containing detail statements of reasons and documentation relied on in arriving at the negative recommendation, together with a notice of the applicant’s right to appeal the negative recommendation, to the International Protection Tribunal (currently the Refugee Appeal Tribunal). There is 15 days’ grace from when the notification of determination is sent to the applicant and the filing of the notice of appeal to the tribunal.

Part 6 of the International Protection Bill deals with the provisions governing the assessment of appeal of negative decisions as regards either form of international protection. Appeals must be in writing and brought within 15 days of notification of the negative recommendation. The next step is an oral hearing with the applicant and a representative of the Minister for Justice present. 

An appeal may be determined based on paper submissions where the report of the authorised officer includes, amongst others, that the application lacks minimal facts to ground international protection; there are gross inconsistencies in the facts presented by applicant; there has been a failure to make an application within practicable reasonable time of their arrival in the State; or the applicant’s country is a designated ‘safe country’. 

It should be noted that an applicant refused oral hearing of an appeal is not precluded from challenging that aspect of the recommendation by way of judicial review on sufficient and compelling grounds. Applicants can withdraw their appeal on notice and similarly an appeal could be deemed withdrawn where the applicant refuses to co-operate with the process without justifiable reasons communicated to the tribunal. 

The tribunal may set aside or affirm the recommendation of the authorised officer on appeal and declare that the applicant be given refugee protection or subsidiary protection as the case may be. The decision of the tribunal shall then be communicated to the applicant.

Part 7 of the bill provides for the notification by the minister of the outcome of an application in writing. Where an application is unsuccessful, the bill allows the applicant the option of returning to their country of origin voluntarily, in which case a deportation order will not be issued. Where applicants wish to continue to remain following refusal of their application, there is still the opportunity to request leave to remain on humanitarian grounds taking into account the applicant’s personal and family circumstances since being in the state. Leave to remain on humanitarian grounds gives the applicant the right to remain in Ireland at the discretion of the minister. Where such an application is refused, the minister then issues a deportation order. The bill retains all existing rights and entitlements enjoyed by successful refugees and those granted subsidiary protection to remain under the extant laws with regard to rights to work, family reunification, travel documents and so on. On enactment and operational all the current asylum applications automatically transfers into the care of the Minister for Justice and Equality and the new International Protection Tribunal.

Among some notable amendments to existing legislation in the new bill is the amendment to section 5 of the Immigration Act 1999, which empowers gardaí to enter a dwelling without warrant on reasonable suspicion that a person who has not complied with the provision of deportation order resides at the address. Also, the bill allows the extension of the current maximum eight weeks in which anyone may detained for immigration matters if there are fresh grounds for extension of the detention. The new bill also empowers the detention of such persons in a prescribed place for the purpose of their deportation. This prescribed place could be airport, sea port or a vehicle, but detention in such places shall not exceed 12 hours. 

The new bill, when passed into law and implemented rigorously, will undoubtedly reduce the costs and time of dealing with applications for international protection in the State. It will be a concise reference point for service users and providers alike, and translation of the act into major languages will give applicants better understanding of the laws that govern their residence in Ireland while in the process of seeking international protection here.

 

Waheed Mudah is a solicitor with Kevin Tunney Solicitors

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