Written Answers. - Refugee Status.

Dan Boyle

Question:

282 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the current political situation in Cameroon is considered suitable grounds for asylum or refugee status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2955/03]

All applications for asylum in the State are processed in accordance with the provisions of the Refugee Act, 1996, as amended and in particular having due regard to the definition of a "refugee" in section 2 of that Act which states that a "refugee" is a person "who, owing to a 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 avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his or her former habitual residence, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it" .

The Deputy will be aware that following the full commencement of the Refugee Act, 1996, as amended, two independent statutory offices were established to consider applications-appeals for refugee status. These two offices are the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, which considers applications for refugee status at first instance and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal which considers appeals from negative recommendations of the Commissioner.

Decisions on asylum applications are made by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform upon receipt of the recommendation-decision of the Refugee Applications Commissioner or the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

While it would be inappropriate to comment on individual countries, in considering all asylum applications consideration is given to the subjective and objective elements of the application. The subjective element of an asylum application concerns the applicant's individual circumstances as they are perceived and described by him or her. The objective element of the application concerns the relevant country of origin information which comes from a wide variety of sources including information from organisations such as the UNHCR, Amnesty International, the US State Department, Canadian boards of immigration and other EU member states as well as media and Internet sources. In addition to these periodically updated sources, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the refugee appeals tribunal have access to up to date news reports regarding events and developments in the countries concerned.