F.T. v Refugee Appeals Tribunal

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh
Judgment Date18 April 2013
Neutral Citation[2013] IEHC 167
CourtHigh Court
Date18 April 2013

[2013] IEHC 167

THE HIGH COURT

[No. 819/J.R./2009]
T (F) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Min for Justice
No Redaction Needed
JUDICIAL REVIEW

BETWEEN

F.T.
APPLICANT
-AND-
THE REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL AND THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND LAW REFORM
RESPONDENTS

RSC O.84 r26(4)

R (I) v MIN FOR JUSTICE & REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL UNREP COOKE 26.11.2009 2009/47/11883 2009 IEHC 510

O (R) (AN INFANT) v MIN FOR JUSTICE & REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL (LEVEY) UNREP MAC EOCHAIDH 20.12.2012 2012 IEHC 573

S (AA) v REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL & MIN FOR JUSTICE UNREP MAC EOCHAIDH 7.2.2013 2013 IEHC 44

REFUGEE ACT 1996 S11B

REFUGEE ACT 1996 S11B(B)

REFUGEE ACT 1996 S11

K (AM) (A MINOR) [AFGHANISTAN] v REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL & MIN FOR JUSTICE UNREP O'KEEFFE 20.11.2012 2012 IEHC 479

CAMARA v MIN FOR JUSTICE & ORS UNREP KELLY 26.7.2000 2000/4/1247

MEADOWS v MIN FOR JUSTICE & ORS 2010 2 IR 701 2011 2 ILRM 157 2010 IESC 3

HORVATH v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPT 1999 IMM AR 121 1999 INLR 7

F (B) v MIN FOR JUSTICE & ORS UNREP PEART 2.5.2008 2008/23/4968 2008 IEHC 126

IMAFU v MIN FOR JUSTICE & ORS UNREP PEART 9.12.2005 2005/31/6380 2005 IEHC 416

T (MLT) [CAMEROON] v MIN FOR JUSTICE & REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL (LINEHAN) UNREP CLARK 27.6.2012 2012 IEHC 568

IDIAKHEUA v MIN FOR JUSTICE & REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL UNREP CLARKE 10.5.2005 2005/31/6357 2005 IEHC 150

HAUGHEY, IN RE 1971 IR 217

S (P) v REFUGEE APPLICATIONS CMSR & ORS UNREP MCMAHON 11.7.2008 2008/57/11956 2008 IEHC 235

IMMIGRATION LAW

Asylum

Application for judicial review - Certiorari - Telescoped hearing - Cameroon - Claim of persecution based on political opinion or membership of social group - Negative credibility findings - Requirement to address central controversial issue in clear and reasoned terms - Whether credibility of core claim considered - Whether Refugee Act 1996 (No 17), s 11B applicable where no first safe country claim made - Irrational negative credibility finding - Obligation to assess credibility in context of country of origin information - Selective reference to country of origin information - Obligation to afford person whose rights may be affected opportunity to know case against them - Treatment of documentary evidence - R(I) v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2009] IEHC 510, (Unrep, Cooke J, 26/11/2009); O(R) (An Infant) v Minister for Justice and Equality [2012] IEHC 573, (Unrep, Mac Eochaidh J, 20/12/2012); S(AA) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal [2013] IEHC 44, (Unrep, Mac Eochaidh J, 7/2/2013); Camara v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Unrep, Kelly J, 26/7/2000); Idiakheua v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Unrep, Clarke J, 10/5/2005) and S(P) v Refugee Applications Commissioner [2008] IEHC 235, (Unrep, McMahon J, 11/7/2008) followed - K(AM) (A Minor) [Afghanistan] v Refugee Appeals Tribunal [2012] IEHC 479, (Unrep, O'Keeffe J, 20/11/2012); Horvath v Secretary of State for the Home Department [1999] INLR 7 and MLTT [Cameroon] v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2012] IEHC 568, (Unrep, Clark J, 27/6/2012) considered - Meadows v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2010] IESC 3, [2010] 2 IR 701 and Re Haughey [1971] IR 217 applied - F(B) v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2008] IEHC 126, (Unrep, Peart J, 2/5/2008) and Imafu v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2005] IEHC 416 (Unrep, Peart J, 9/12/2005) distinguished - Refugee Act 1996 (No 17), s 11B - Certiorari granted; matter remitted for reconsideration before different tribunal member (2009/819JR - Mac Eochaidh J - 18/4/2013) [2013] IEHC 167

T(F) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal

Facts The applicant had arrived from Cameroon via France and made an application for refugee status. The applicant had contended that he feared persecution on the basis of his political opinion and his membership of an opposition political party. It was contended that due to his political activities he had been arrested and detained but had managed to escape. The Tribunal Member had rejected the applicant”s claim on the basis of a lack of credibility. It was submitted on behalf of the applicant that the Tribunal had failed to assess the applicant”s core claim and had relied on peripheral issues in making adverse credibility findings. It was also contended that the Tribunal Member had failed to assess the credibility of the applicant and risk of torture in the context of country of origin information.

Held by Mac Eochaidh J in granting judicial review and quashing the decision: It was not open to the Tribunal Member to state that he did not accept the explanations given by the applicant for his failure to claim asylum in France. Some of the findings made by the Tribunal Member were merely in relation to peripheral matters and did not relate to the core of the claim. The Tribunal Member had erred in respect of other lack of credibility findings. The applicant had been denied an opportunity to address the Tribunal”s concerns in relation to the documentary evidence produced and the Tribunal Member had thereby breached fair procedures and constitutional justice. The decision would be quashed and the matter remitted for decision before a different member of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

1

This is a 'telescoped' application for leave to seek judicial review in respect of a decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (the "Tribunal") dated 5 th June 2009 refusing the applicant refugee status. The applicant is seeking, inter alia, an order of certiorari quashing the decision and an order of mandamus directing that the matter be remitted to the Tribunal for full reconsideration. (Where certiorari is granted, the matter may be remitted to the decision maker under Order 84 Rule 26 (4) RSC; mandamus for this purpose is not appropriate.)

Background:
2

The applicant is from Cameroon and arrived in the State via France on 22 nd April 2008, making an application for refugee status on the same day. The applicant claims he fears persecution on the basis of his political opinion and membership of a particular social group. In particular, the applicant claims that he faces persecution on the basis of his membership of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), an opposition political party in Cameroon. The applicant claims that his role in the political party was the mobilisation and organisation of participants, especially youths, in protests and marches against the government. It was this involvement which brought the applicant to the attention of the authorities and which led to his arrest and detention. The applicant claims that while in detention he was informed that a commanding officer had ordered his death for the role he played in organising the protests. However, the applicant managed to secure his release from detention with the aid of a relative of a fellow detainee. After two months spent in hiding following his escape, the applicant subsequently fled Cameroon with the assistance of a smuggler or 'agent'

Grounds of Challenge:
3

The decision of the Tribunal Member rejecting the application for refugee status is based primarily on the lack of credibility of the applicant. The applicant sets out some twelve grounds challenging the Tribunal decision in his statement grounding the application for leave to seek judicial review. However, counsel for the applicant helpfully distilled the grounds to three substantive arguments which I propose to examine in turn.

4

In conducting this examination I am guided by the general principles enunciated by Cooke J. in the decision of I.R. v. Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2009] IEHC 510 and also by my decision of R O (An Infant) v. Minister for Justice and Equality [2012] IEHC 573. Further, I am guided by my decision in A.A.S. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal [2013] IEHC 44 in respect of the requirement that a Tribunal Member assess the core claim made by an applicant for refugee status.

Reliance on peripheral issues for credibility findings / Failure to assess applicant's core claim:
5

Counsel for the applicant contends that the Tribunal Member erred in placing reliance on peripheral issues in making adverse credibility findings against the applicant and thereby failed to deal with his core claim. The credibility findings made by the Tribunal Member are listed 1 - 6 in the decision and are categorised by the applicant in his submissions as follows:

"Grounds 1 - 3 concern the narrative of the Applicant's travel to Ireland. Ground 4 is based on a disbelief that the Applicant could have hid at his aunt's house in Baffoussan for two months without being discovered. Ground 5 does not appear to contain a credibility finding, but rather appears to be a comment on the probative value of the Applicant's SDF card, together with a novel explanation for not raising any suspicions about it with the Applicant… the first Respondent goes on to raise only one credibility issue, Ground 6, in relation to the Applicant's core claim…"

6

It is clear from the decision of the Tribunal Member that he places significant emphasis on the manner of the applicant's travel to Ireland as three of his six credibility findings make reference to this. In particular, the Tribunal Member refers to the provisions of s. 11B of the Refugee Act 1996 in his first credibility finding. In this regard the Tribunal Member states that:

"The submission of his solicitor that the appellant showed great maturity for his age…tends to undermine the explanation given by the appellant for not applying for asylum in France (being the first safe country he encountered) was that his will was effectively overborne by the trafficker who determined that his asylum claim should be made in Ireland and nowhere else and his alternative explanation that he was overcome by leaving his country and...

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