Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (170)

Róisín Shortall


170 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the policy of his Department in relation to the treatment of asylum seekers who have a verifiable threat to their lives should they return to their country of origin; if, on foot of the case of a person (details supplied), all Nigerian women seeking asylum here will be refused asylum regardless of whether a death penalty may be awaiting them on their return; if so, the basis upon which this policy was decided; if not, the reason this particular person was refused; if he is considering granting humanitarian leave to remain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4383/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

It is not the practice to comment in detail on individual applications for asylum. However, 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 under the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, two independent statutory offices 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 recommendationor decision of the Refugee Applications Commissioner or the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

In considering an asylum claim 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.

In relation to this particular case, the person in question entered the State on 15 September 2002 and claimed asylum. The Refugee Applications Commissioner recommended that her claim be refused and the applicant was informed of this recommendation on 14 April 2003 and appealed this recommendation on 8 May 2003. The Refugee Appeals Tribunal affirmed the recommendation and the person concerned was informed of this decision on 28 August 2003.

I am further informed that in accordance with section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 the person in question was informed on 26 November 2003 that it was proposed to make a deportation order and was given the following options: to make written representations within 15 working days to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform setting out reasons why she should be allowed to remain in the State, to voluntarily leave the State or to consent to deportation. An application for leave to remain was received from the person's legal representatives on 18 December 2003. I expect the case file to be submitted to me for consideration in the near future.