Written Answers. - Refugee Status.

John Gormley

Question:

808 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has to grant refugee status to persons from Algeria in view of recent reports of human rights abuses in that country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1295/99]

Ireland fully lives up to its international obligations in the asylum area. People entitled under international law to protection are given protection.

The basic criteria for establishing who is entitled to be granted refugee status is the definition set out at section 2 of the Refugee Act, 1996. This provides,inter alia, that a refugee is someone who owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it. Each application is considered on its own merit and where the above definition is met the person is granted refugee status.

The situation in the country of origin of asylum seekers is, of course, a most important factor in the determination process, it is essential that such information is researched in detail. For this purpose, my Department obtains information, from,inter alia, the UNHCR, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Amnesty International reports, the media and other EU member states.

There are occasions where the criteria for the granting of refugee status are not met but good reasons exist where the person in question should not be returned to his or her country of origin at the particular point in time. In such an instance, consideration is given to allowing the person temporary permission to remain in the State. I will continue to exercise my discretion in such circumstances in keeping with our international reputation and humanitarian traditions in this regard.