Susan Doyle of SMD Solicitors gave a briefing to Brij Volunteers on International Protection & Deportation on Monday 17th February Last. Below is a summary of the information shared.
Today we'll be looking mostly at refusals and deportation. But also, we'll go through the application process for international protection.
A person must make an application for asylum in the first safe country that they arrive in. When a person arrives in Ireland, or is living in Ireland, they can apply for international protection either at the point of entry to the state, for example, at the airport, or at the International Protection Office in Dublin.
Once a person makes an application for International Protection they cannot be removed from the state until they have the opportunity to fully present their case to the International Protection Office. However, if Ireland is not the first country that a person arrives into in the EU, they may be returned to that Country after making the application for International Protection.
Once the person makes the application for international protection, the reception integration agency provides the person with accommodation and health care. Minors are also entitled to primary and second level education while the application is being processed. You cannot leave the state without the Minister for Justice and Equality’s consent while your application is being processed. If you do not have a first instance decision within 9 months of your application, you can apply for a work permit.
The international Protection Act of 2015 covers applications for international protection and sets out the procedures and provides definitions for terms like refugee and subsidiary protection.
A refugee is defined as someone who is unable to go back to their country of origin because of persecution on the basis of:-
A person must not be able to live safely in any part of the country and must not be able to avail of protection from authorities.
If you do not qualify to be a refugee but you are at risk of serious harm if sent home, you may be given a status called Subsidiary Protection. Serious harm can be in the form of torture, cruel inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment by state authorities or harm as a result of violence or armed conflict in the country of origin.
When a person applies for international protection, they will firstly be given a short interview in the IPO, they are then sent a Questionnaire which they must fill in. This can be in their own language. Then they are given a date for a substantive interview with the IPO. The interviews are generally held in Dublin, but some are now being held on Patricks Hill, Cork.
The substantive interview takes place in a small room, and the interview asks, a number of questions. Supporting documents and evidence can also be submitted prior to the interview or at the interview. Interviewers tend to have different styles. Some are very kind and some can be tougher with applicants. Where a person arrives with no supporting documents identification or passport, the interviewer will also need to establish that the person is indeed from the country they say they are from. They then need to establish all of the facts about the case, even the country of origin. They will also assess the credibility of the person’s claim. Where someone has no supporting documentation, the IPO will give the applicant the benefit of the doubt where:
(a) the applicant has made a genuine effort to substantiate his or her application,
(b) all relevant elements at the applicant’s disposal have been submitted and a satisfactory explanation regarding any lack of other relevant elements has been given,
(c) the applicant’s statements are found to be coherent and plausible and do not run counter to available specific and general information relevant to the applicant’s case,
(d) the applicant has applied for international protection at the earliest possible time, unless the applicant can demonstrate good reason for not having done so, and
(e) the general credibility of the applicant has been established
The substantive interview results in a decision which is usually issued within 6 months, although it can take longer. The decision will either grant or refuse refugee status or subsidiary protection and both are considered separately. The decision will also consider if a person should be granted permission to remain. PTR can be granted for humanitarian reasons or other exceptional reasons.
The Applicant can appeal the decision to refuse international protection at the International Protection Appeals Tribunal. An appeal must be lodged within 10 days of the decision. They will be represented at this appeal by their solicitor or a barrister. The appeal is more like a court so there is a barrister for the International protection office or opposing counsel, and the Tribunal member acts as a judge. A decision is usually issued by the Tribunal member after a few months.
If the Appeal decision is negative, it is very important that the person applies within five days for permission to remain. If you do make an application for permission to remain, it should be based on things like your connections to the state, representations made by people on your behalf. If your children are in education, and other humanitarian reasons why you should be allowed to stay, such as family rights or medical issues.
If they don't make any submissions for permission to remain or if the permission to remain application is refused, the file is automatically sent to the repatriation division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service who will issue the deportation order. The deportation order once issued is affected by the Garda National Immigration Bureau or GNIB.
If a negative decision is made, it is open to the applicant to take JR proceedings in the High Court. This must be done within 28 days of the decision. It's a very strict time that an extension can be granted but only in very exceptional circumstances. Where an application for JR is made, a barrister will generally apply for an injunction restraining deportation until the outcome of the case. If this is granted, an applicant cannot be deported until a final decision is made. There must be good grounds for a JR claim and the High Court recently made a solicitor personally liable for costs where she issued proceedings without checking the facts of the case.
If a JR application is not made, there is only one option available under section 3(11) of the International Protection Act 2015. This is an application to revoke a deportation order on the basis of some new facts or circumstances which were not previously known. There have to be new circumstances such as the person may have a child or they may have a medical issue, which will activate our school, generally sections, age, or section three of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Even with a section 3(11) application into revoke, you can still be deported however, when you're back in your home country you're still entitled to a decision. Unless the deportation order is revoked, the person will never be allowed back into the country.
The Minister’s power to deport derives from Section 51 of the International Protection Act 2015. Where a person fails to get refugee status, subsidiary protection or permission to remain, the Minister makes a deportation order subject to the option to voluntarily return and the principle of non-refoulement.
Where a deportation order is issued, it will be accompanied by a letter instructing a person to leave the state by a certain date and if they do not, to attend at the GNIB, Burgh Quay in Dublin to make arrangements for deportation. Usually a person will be signing for a number of months or even years before being deported. Particularly if they do not have travel documents.
When a person goes to Dublin, they just sign with the GNIB and then they will be given another date to come back to sign. A person can be deported at any signing or even in between signings. It is important that the person does not miss signing or they will be classed as an evader and may be arrested.
If a person does not have a passport, the GNIB will have to make arrangements to get travel documents for that person. There are some indications that deportation might be carried out with the next signing or the signing after that, for example where at the meeting the person is brought into a room, interviewed by the GNIB or a person from the consulate or embassy of their home country.
When a person is taken for deportation generally, they will be held at a Garda Station or prison until the flight. They can be held for up to 8 weeks.
Sometimes the person will be allowed to go and collect their belongings and say goodbye to their children if they have children in the state and sometimes they won't be able to collect their belongings and the Gardai will go and collect them on their behalf.
Where a person has a valid deportation order, it is very difficult to prevent the deportation order being affected at this stage. The option is there to go before the High Court. The main way to prevent the deportation order would be to prove there are new facts or circumstances which make it likely that the person will be in some danger if they are returned. The fact that a person has children in the state is not even enough to prevent the deportation.
The best option is to utilise the media and local politicians. A petition can also be useful and if there are new developments in the country of origin, it would be important to make submissions to the INIS