Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Ceisteanna (284)

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

326 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if due regard has been had for the life, safety and well being of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2 in the event of them being transferred to the UK from where they are likely to be transferred to the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29127/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Justice)

The case referred to by the Deputy falls under the scope of the Dublin II Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No. 343/2003). This Regulation is intended to prevent the phenomenon of ‘asylum shopping' across Europe and sets out criteria for determining which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application where applications have been lodged in more than one State. At the same time it guarantees applicants that one State will process their application, thereby preventing the creation of ‘refugees in orbit', a situation which had pertained in Europe prior to the introduction in 1995 of its predecessor, namely, the Dublin Convention. Under the Dublin Convention, and now the Dublin II Regulation, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) can, on the basis of relevant criteria, request another State to accept responsibility for an asylum application and have it processed in that other State.

The person concerned lodged an asylum claim in this State on 21 April, 2006. Following investigation, it was determined by the ORAC that, pursuant to the provisions of the Dublin II Regulation, the United Kingdom was the appropriate State to process the application as the person concerned had previously lodged an asylum claim in that State, on 19 November, 2004, albeit under a different name and date of birth.

The person concerned was offered an opportunity to appeal the determination of the ORAC, to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, which he duly did on 4 August, 2006 through his legal representatives, the Refugee Legal Service. Following consideration of the Appeal, the Tribunal upheld the determination of the ORAC i.e. that the person concerned should have his asylum claim examined in the United Kingdom and he was formally notified of this decision by letter dated 25 August, 2006. The person concerned was kept informed of developments throughout the course of his asylum application in this State and was made aware as soon as it was possible to do so that his case came under the terms of the Dublin II Regulation.

The United Kingdom accepted responsibility for the case of the person concerned with the consequence that a Transfer Order was signed in respect of him on 19 July, 2006. [Transfers under Dublin II Regulation are non-suspensory and the making of an appeal to the Tribunal does not, of itself, operate to suspend the transfer on foot of any Transfer Order that might be made under Article 7(1) of the Refugee Act 1996 (Section 22) Order 2003 (SI No 423 of 2003). Furthermore, the appeal can be pursued from the receiving country, in this case the United Kingdom. Of course, if the appeal is successful, arrangements are made to allow the person concerned to re-enter the State and have their asylum application determined substantively by the ORAC].

This Order was issued to the person concerned on 20 July, 2006, requiring him to present himself to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 on 26 July, 2006 to make arrangements for his transfer to the United Kingdom. However, he failed to present as required and is now recorded as having evaded his transfer. He is currently illegally present in the State and is liable to arrest and detention. He should present himself to An Garda Síochána without further delay so that final travel arrangements can be made to effect his transfer to the United Kingdom.

In accordance with the provisions of the Dublin II Regulation, the United Kingdom, and not Ireland, is responsible for examining the asylum claim of the person concerned, given that he made his initial asylum claim there. In the event of the United Kingdom refusing his asylum application after due consideration, it is a matter for that country to decide whether to return him to his home country. In making that decision the UK like all other signatories (including Ireland) to the 1951 UN Convention of the Status of Refugees is obliged to satisfy itself as to the safety of returning the person, or refoulement as it is referred to, before making any return decision.