Written Answers. - Asylum Applications.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

109 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of applications for asylum received since the beginning of 2001; the number of applications pro cessed in that period; the decisions made; the number of deportation orders made in that period; the number of such deportations implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27641/01]

Under the Refugee Act, 1996, as amended, the office of the refugee applications commissioner is responsible for considering applications for a declaration as a refugee at first instance and the refugee appeals tribunal is responsible for consideration of appeals.

The information sought by the Deputy and covering the period 1 January, 2001 to 31 October, 2001, which is the most up to date information available, is set out in the following tabular statements. In relation to the first ten months of this year, there were 8,461 asylum applications compared to 9,080 applications in the first ten months of 2000 – 6.8% decrease.

I have been informed by the office of the refugee applications commissioner, ORAC, that, since July 2001, cases scheduled, processed and completed significantly exceeded intake. In July, 961 applications were received, 1,473 interviews were scheduled and 1,072 cases processed. In August, 983 applications were received, 1,543 interviews were scheduled and 1,407 cases processed. In September, 855 applications were received, 1,594 interviews scheduled and 1,145 cases were processed and in October, 892 applications were received, 1,213 interviews were scheduled and 1,506 cases were processed.

These figures provide a clear indication that the increase in processing capacity which has been put in place as part of the Government's strategy is starting to make a real impact on the backlog of cases on hand and will help to progressively reduce processing times on an incremental basis.

As I informed the House in my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 110, 125 and 930 of 3 October, 2001, it is expected that by the end of this year all outstanding cases from 1998 to the end of 2000 will have been scheduled for interview with the overwhelming majority processed to finality. Thus, from the end of this year, the ORAC will effectively be focusing mainly on applications submitted in 2001. Already some applications made in May 2001 have been scheduled for interview.

In relation to appeals, I have been informed by the refugee appeals tribunal, RAT, that it now expects to complete approximately 3,600 appeals in 2001. As with the ORAC, having regard to the increased processing capacity which has been put in place as part of the Government's strategy, there has been a significant increase in the number of hearings scheduled with over 3,000 hearings expected to be scheduled for 2001, to end of year compared with 1,119 for 2000.

I understand there are now approximately 5,500 backlog cases, i.e. cases which are more than six months old on hands in ORAC and RAT as at 31 October, 2001 and, as I outlined in my reply of 3 October, it is expected that the vast majority of these will be scheduled by the end of year.
The significant progress achieved to date in the processing of asylum applications in the State provides further evidence of the successful implementation of the Government's asylum strategy.
(1 January, 2001 to 31 October, 2001)
Table 1
Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC)

Number of asylum applications received

8,461

Number of applications processed

9,246

Recommendations to grant refugee status

346

Recommendations to refuse refugee status

5,289

Withdrawals processed and determinations for transfer to other countries under the Dublin Convention

3,611

Table 2
Refugee Appeals Tribunal

(1) Number of Appeals Received

3,163

(2) Number of Appeals Completed*

2,688

(3) Number of Decisions to Grant Refugee Status**

344

(4) Number of ORAC Recommendations Set Aside***

512

(5) Number of ORAC Recommendations Affirmed

1,624

*The difference between row (2) and rows (3) to (5) is mainly due to the number of withdrawals.
**These are defined, under the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, as Substantive "Set Asides" .
***Substantive "Set Asides", i.e. (3) above, are included in this figure;
When Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) recommendations (Manifestly Unfounded (167 cases) and Dublin Convention (1 Case)) are set aside by the RAT, the cases are referred back to the ORAC for full consideration under section 11 of the Refugee Act, 1996 as amended.
Table 3
Deportation Orders

Number of Deportation Orders signed

1,601

Number of Deportation Orders effected

275