Traore v Refugee Appeals Tribunal

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeJustice Finlay Geoghegan
Judgment Date14 May 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] IEHC 606
Docket Number[No. 519 J.R./2002],[No. 757 JR/2002]
Date14 May 2004

[2004] IEHC 606

THE HIGH COURT

[No. 519 J.R./2002]
AL MOUSTAPHA TRAORE v. REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL & MINISTER FOR JUSTICE
Judicial Review

BETWEEN

AL MOUSTAPHA TRAORE
APPLICANT

AND

THE REFUGEE APPEAL'S TRIBUNAL AND THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE, EQUALITY & LAW REFORM
RESPONDENTS

Citations:

O'KEEFFE V BORD PLEANALA 1993 1 IR 39

KRAMARENKO V REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL 2004 2 ILRM 55

REFUGEE ACT 1996

CAMARA V MIN FOR JUSTICE UNREP KELLY 26.7.2000 2000/4/124

UNHCR HANDBOOK ON PROCEDURES AND CRITERIA FOR DETERMINING REFUGEE STATUS 1992

EAST DONEGAL CO-OP V AG 1970 IR 317

HILL V CRIMINAL COMPENSATION TRIBUNAL 1990 ILRM 36

RYANAIR V FLYNN & ORS 2000 3 IR 240

AER RIANTA CPT V AVIATION CMSR UNREP O'SULLIVAN 16.1.2003 2003/1/141

HORVATH V SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT 1999 INLR 7

Synopsis:

- [2004] 2 IR 607

Facts: The applicant was refused asylum. He applied for judicial review seeking an order quashing the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The grounds upon which leave was granted challenged four conclusions of the RAT in the assessment of the credibility of the applicant’s story.

Held by Finlay Geoghegan J. in granting an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the RAT and remitting the matter to the RAT for hearing and decision by another member of the RAT that inter alia in assessing the credibility of the applicant the RAT had included as part of the applicant’s story a fact for which she had not relevant material and this error rendered the decision invalid. Further the RAT had failed to consider relevant evidence.

Reporter: R.W.

JUDGMENT of Ms. Justice Finlay Geoghegan delivered on the
14th day of May 2004
1

The applicant states that he is a national of the Ivory Coast and a member of the Djoula tribe in the Ivory Coast and of the Muslim faith. He alleges that he was forced to flee the Ivory Coast 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 Refugee Appeals Tribunal and following an oral hearing received a decision dated 31stJuly, 2002 refusing his declaration for refugee status for the reasons set out in the decision of the Tribunal Member dated 29th July, 2002. The applicant initiated proceedings seeking leave to issue Judicial Review by Notice of Motion 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 named respondent as communicated in the letter of the 31st July, 2002. He was granted leave to do so upon the grounds set out at par. (e) 3, 4 & 7 (as amended) of the Statement of Grounds.

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.

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 the Ivory Coast. His claim that the fear is well founded is based upon the following alleged incidents which he stated took place in the Ivory Coast in April 2000. He had been a driver to a Secretary to the Government since October 1998. There was a coup d'Etat in December 1999 leading to a change of Government and he did not return to work until April 2000 as Madame Bombay, the Government Secretary for whom he worked, was on maternity leave. In April, one week after his return to work, he stated he was wrongly accused by Madame Bombay of having stolen two letters addressed to Muslim leaders for political purposes. He stated that he was dismissed from his job and was threatened that if he did not return the two letters in question the matter would be reported to the police on the basis that he was a spy. On the same day a police raid was carried out on his home whilst he was hiding at a relative's house where he had been praying and his passport and national identity card were confiscated. He alleged that he believed that his life was in jeopardy; further, that this was because of his tribal background and religion; that he was the only Muslim amongst several drivers and no one else was accused of stealing the letters in question. In support of the alleged story he produced to the Tribunal two summonses dated the 12th and 19th April respectively, requiring him to present himself to the police in Abidjan in each case on the following day. He also produced, as proof of his identity, a copy of a driver's licence, bankcard and blood donor card.

7

The applicant further alleges that he then went into hiding in a compound of one of the Muslim leaders in the Ivory Coast and that the Iman arranged his departure from the Ivory Coast; that pursuant to those arrangements he travelled to Mali and subsequently by air to Paris and on to Hamburg where he stayed overnight and travelled by air from Hamburg to Dublin on the following day. He produced an admittedly false French passport which he alleges he was given at the airport in Mali together with travel documentation and a ticket and boarding pass from Hamburg to Dublin only.

8

He was represented by solicitor at the hearing before the Tribunal Member in advance of which a detailed Notice of Appeal had been submitted together with country of origin information.

Decision of Tribunal Member
9

The decision of the Tribunal Member sets out in some detail the evidence before her. There are two extracts of such evidence, as recorded, which are relevant to the issues I have to consider and cited later in the judgment.

10

This section of the decision is followed by statements of the law relating to the definition of a refugee, the burden and standard of proof and the definition of persecution. No challenge is made to these and, therefore, it is not necessary to set them out.

11

The final part of the decision is an assessment of the claim made by the applicant. In the first part of the assessment the Tribunal Members considers the country of origin information relating to the Ivory Coast and concludes that it indicates that there is serious discrimination against Muslims.

12

The Tribunal member then assesses the creditability of the applicant's story in the following terms:

"Mr. Noel Smith in his Section 13 Report summaries the applicant's position on the first paragraph of the second page of his report which states:"

"During the course of the interview the applicant stated that he did not go to school and was unable to read or write. It is difficult to understand why the applicant would have the responsibility to deliver the letter of a Government office and officials if this was the case."

13

I would endorse that assessment. It is neither plausible nor believable that an illiterate person would be one of the three people employed as drivers to Secretaries of top Government officials. It is inconceivable to think that somebody who was totally unable to read or write would be given custody of important letters. The applicant gave the same details at the hearing as he did at his interview. His production of summons do not show anything on the face of them that might be a cause for concern. The applicant stated he was a Muslim and one of the clearly discriminated groups of people and yet he claims to have been employed in a top position. This aspect of the applicant's story is neither plausible nor believable. The applicant produced a false French Passport and claimed he travelled to Ireland via Mali onto Paris and by bus to Germany. It seems extraordinary that if the final destination was Ireland, somebody would travel by bus from Paris to Germany and then take a flight from Hamburg to Ireland. The fact that the applicant produced two letters in the name of a gentleman with a similar name to the applicant is of no relevance in my view. I looked with great detail at all aspects of this applicant's case. The country of origin information relating to the Ivory Coast is particularly disconcerting, and therefore I scrutinised every detail of this applicant's claim and I noted with great care everything he said. However, I finally concluded, taking all aspects of this applicant's claim into consideration, that the story as told by this applicant was not credible. I found his story about an individual with a similar name in Germany only added to the lack of credibility of the applicant's claim. I further find it incredible that somebody whose itinerary was allegedly planned with such care to bring him to a country of safety and that he was fleeing persecution that he would state he was coming to this country for a holiday. While I was not particularly impressed by the general demeanour of the applicant at the hearing, I was very reluctant to attach very much to a non impressive demeanour lest I do the applicant an injustice. However, I have concluded that this applicant is in this country for some reason other than the story he has given.

14

Accordingly, I am not satisfied that this applicant has fled his country of origin due to persecution for the reasons he gave."

...

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