At the outset, it should be stated that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is obliged to consider the issue of risk to a person before, not after, a deportation order issues in respect of that person. There are legislative and procedural safeguards to ensure that persons are not returned to countries where they are at risk.
The Immigration Act 1999 sets out the procedures involved in deporting a person. Where the Minister proposes to deport a person he or she is given the options of making representations within 15 working days setting out the reasons they should not be deported, that is, be allowed to remain temporarily in the State, leaving the State before the order was made, or consenting to the making of deportation orders.
Where representations are made setting out reasons a person should not be deported, the Minister is obliged to consider of number of factors as specified in section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended. These factors include considerations relating to the common good, the person's individual family and domestic circumstances and humanitarian considerations. Moreover, the Minister is also obliged to consider the prohibition on refoulement which is contained in section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended. This means that a person shall not be expelled from the State or returned in any manner whatsoever to a State where, in the Minister's opinion, the life or freedom of that person would be threatened on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.