S.O. v Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Others

CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Mac Eochaidh
Judgment Date11 May 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] IEHC 286
Date11 May 2015

[2015] IEHC 286


[No. 1157 JR/2010]
O (S) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors
No Further Redaction Needed





Asylum – Judicial review – Order of certiorari – Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) – Credibility.

Facts: The applicant sought an order by way of judicial review for an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the respondent refusing the refugee status of the applicant claiming fear of persecution for a Convention reason. The applicant claimed that the Tribunal member failed to assess the applicant's core claim. The applicant contended that the decision was irrational. The applicant contended that the nature of the findings made by the tribunal member was unclear and that a fuller explanation was required.

Mr. Justice Mac Eochaidh held that the application seeking an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the respondent refusing the claim for asylum would be refused. The Court rejected the argument that the Tribunal member failed to assess the applicant's core claim. The Court found that the findings were free from any error which would justify court intervention. The Court further held that the applicant failed to establish any Convention nexus.


1. The applicant in this "telescoped" application for leave to seek judicial review is a Nigerian national who seeks, inter alia, certiorari of a decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal dated 7 th July, 2010, affirming the decision of the Refugee Applications Commissioner refusing him refugee status.


2. The applicant was born in November 1978 in Lagos State, Nigeria and came to Ireland in February 2010. He travelled here by air, transiting through Amsterdam before arriving in the State. He states that he was a lance corporal in the Nigerian army for some years and that his problems began when he, along with three of his colleagues, were ordered by their garrison commander to remove arms and ammunition from the armoury and to load them onto a truck. He says that he was aware that the arms were being misappropriated but that he was obliged to follow the orders of the colonel who was in command. He claims he was paid NGN 25,000 for his involvement in the removal of the arms. The alarm was raised in the barracks when it was realised that stores were missing from the armoury and as a result of his involvement in this incident the applicant was imprisoned for eleven months while an investigation took place.


3. The applicant claims that whilst in prison the four soldiers were visited by the colonel. Two of the soldiers told the colonel that they would confess the crime and his involvement unless he did something to arrange their release. The applicant claims that within five days these two soldiers were found dead and were rumoured to have been poisoned. The applicant claims he managed to escape from prison when he and the other remaining accomplice were woken in the middle of the night by an unknown soldier, taken outside where the gate of the prison was opened for them and where a vehicle was waiting which brought them to an unknown place. The applicant states that his escape was organised by the colonel who visited him and informed him that his unit and the entire Nigerian army had been notified that he had absconded from prison. The colonel then made arrangements for the applicant and the other soldier to have their photograph's taken in order to arrange passports to enable them to travel. The colonel organised a British passport for the applicant which he states he used to enable his travel to get to the State. The applicant submitted his army I.D. to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner but states that the passport was taken off him when he arrived in Ireland.


4. The applicant's stated fear of persecution is that he would face court martial and imprisonment for 21 years if apprehended by the army and/or assassination by the colonel if he were to return to Nigeria.

Tribunal Decision

5. In addressing the military I.D. card submitted by the applicant, while the tribunal member appears to have doubts as to why the applicant's rank is stated to be that of lsquo;privatersquo; as opposed to that of lsquo;lance corporalrsquo;, the tribunal member accepted that the applicant was familiar with military terms, weapons and ranks and was satisfied that he had a military background. However, the tribunal member made an adverse credibility finding with regard to the applicant's use of a false passport for travel from Lagos via Amsterdam to Dublin. The tribunal member makes a finding pursuant to s. 11B(a) Refugee Act 1996 on this point.


6. The second adverse finding reached by the tribunal member is that he did not accept that an agent would accompany the applicant all the way from Nigeria to Ireland via the Netherlands and risk being detected travelling with a person who had a false passport. Furthermore, it is not accept that the trafficker then collected the false passport in Dublin airport before disappearing. Crucially, the tribunal member did not accept it was credible that the colonel would have gone to the risk and expense of procuring tickets and false documentation in order to get the applicant out of Nigeria. It is doubted that the colonel would go to these lengths given the mysterious deaths of two of the applicant's colleagues whilst in prison. As such, the Tribunal did not consider that the applicant gave a full and true explanation of how he travelled to and arrived in the State and refers to s. 11B(c) Refugee Act 1996 in this regard.


7. The failure of the applicant to apply for asylum at the frontiers of the State is also counted against the applicant in the assessment of his credibility by the tribunal member. The applicant's claims with regard to how he managed to escape from the prison, of being woken in the middle of the night and escorted out to a waiting vehicle, are also not accepted as credible by the Tribunal. In this regard, it is not accepted that the series of events described by the applicant and which would have involved significant effort and coordination by the...

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