A.M.T v Refugee Appeals Tribunal

Judgment Date14 May 2004
Date14 May 2004
Docket Number[2002 No. 519 J.R.]
CourtHigh Court
[2004] IEHC 219

High Court

[2002 No. 519 J.R.]
A.M.T. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal
In the matter of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, in the matter of the Immigration Act 1999 and in the matter of the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000; A.M.T.
The Refugee Appeals Tribunal and The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Cases mentioned in this report:-

Aer Rianta cpt. v. Commissioner for Aviation Regulation (Unreported, High Court, O'Sullivan J., 16th January, 2003).

S.C. v. Minister for Justice (Unreported, High Court, Kelly J., 26th July, 2000).

East Donegal Co-Operative Livestock Mart Ltd. v. Attorney General [1970] I.R. 317; (1970) 104 I.L.T.R. 81.

Hill v. Criminal Injuries Comp. Tribunal [1990] I.L.R.M. 36.

Horvath v. S.S.H.D. [1999] I.N.L.R. 7.

K. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal [2004] IEHC 240; [2004] 2 I.L.R.M. 550.

O'Keeffe v. An Bord Pleanála [1993] 1 I.R. 39; [1992] I.L.R.M. 237.

Ryanair Ltd. v. Flynn [2000] 3 I.R. 240; [2001] 1 I.L.R.M. 283; [2000] E.L.R. 161.

Aliens - Asylum seeker - Refugee status application - Refusal - Applicant's credibility - Fair procedures - Whether applicant accorded fair procedures in assessment of credibility - Refugee Act 1996 (No. 17) - United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951.

Judicial review

The facts of the case have been summarised in the headnote and are more fully set out in the judgment of Finlay Geoghegan J.,infra.

The applicant applied for leave to seek judicial review by motion on notice dated the 15th August, 2002. Leave was granted by order of the High Court (Butler J.) on the 26th November, 2002. A motion seeking the substantive relief was issued on the 15th January, 2003. The matter was heard before the High Court (Finlay Geoghegan J.) on the 26th June, 2003.

The applicant applied for a declaration of refugee status in Ireland. His application having been rejected by the Refugee Applications Commissioner, he appealed to the first respondent. Following an oral hearing, the first respondent rejected the appeal, primarily on the basis that the applicant lacked credibility. The applicant sought judicial review of the decision. He claimed that the tribunal member had failed to accord him fair procedures in taking into account matters in respect of which there was no relevant evidence before her, failing to take relevant evidence into account and drawing conclusions as to the applicant's credibility without the benefit of relevant information on the country of origin.

Held by the High Court (Finlay Geoghegan J.), in granting the relief sought and remitting the matter to another member of the first respondent, 1, that, in exercising its function under the Refugee Act 1996, the first respondent must assess the applicant's credibility in accordance with the principles of constitutional justice.

East Donegal Co-Operative Livestock Mart Ltd. v. Attorney General [1970] I.R. 317 applied.

2. That the first respondent must assess the applicant's credibility having regard to the evidence before the tribunal and in the context of information on the applicant's country of origin. The tribunal member's reliance on factors, in respect of which there was no relevant material before her, to reach a conclusion adverse to the applicant's credibility, her failure to consider relevant evidence as to the applicant's credibility and her determination of issues relevant to the applicant's credibility in the absence of relevant country of origin information, were errors which rendered the decision invalid.

O'Keeffe v. An Bord Pleanála [1993] 1 I.R. 39 applied.

Cur. adv. vult.

Finlay Geoghegan J.

14th May, 2004

1 The applicant states that he is a national of Côte d'Ivoire and a member of the Djoula tribe in Côte d'Ivoire and of the Muslim faith. He alleges that he was forced to flee Côte d'Ivoire in or about July, 2000 following serious difficulties at his workplace which put him in fear of his life.

2 He arrived in Dublin on the 8th October, 2000, travelling by air from Hamburg in Germany. He travelled on what is admitted to be a false French passport, initially stated that he was coming to Ireland for holidays and then, on the 9th October, 2000, applied for a declaration of refugee status in Ireland.

3 Thereafter, the normal procedures followed and the Refugee Applications Commissioner, on the 22nd April, 2002, recommended that he should not be declared to be a refugee.

4 From that decision he appealed to the first respondent and, following an oral hearing, received a decision dated the 31st July, 2002, refusing his application for a declaration for refugee status for the reasons set out in the decision of the tribunal member, dated the 29th July, 2002. The applicant initiated proceedings for leave to seek judicial review by motion on notice dated the 15th August, 2002. By order of this court (Butler J.) of the 26th November, 2002, he was granted leave to apply for judicial review seeking an order quashing the decision of the first respondent as communicated in the letter of the 31st July, 2002. He was granted leave to do so upon the grounds set out at para. (e) 3, 4 and 7 (as amended) of the statement of grounds grounding his application.

5 The application is grounded upon two affidavits of the applicant and an affidavit of his solicitor. A notice of opposition was filed and the only affidavit sworn on behalf of the respondents is an affidavit exhibiting correspondence with the embassy of the Republic of Mali in Paris relating to the practice of stamping passports when leaving from Mali International Airport in Bamako.

Applicants claim for asylum

6 The applicant's claim for a declaration of refugee status is based upon an alleged fear of persecution by reason of his Muslim faith and membership of the Djoula tribe if he were to be returned to Côte d'Ivoire. His claim that the fear is well founded is based upon the following alleged incidents which he stated took place in Côte d'Ivoire in April, 2000. He had been a driver to a secretary to the government since October, 1998. There was a coup d'état in December, 1999 leading to a change of government and he did not return to work until April, 2000 as the government secretary for whom he worked, was on maternity leave. In April, one...

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