O. -v- MJELR, (2009)

Docket Number:2008 1236 P
Party Name:O., MJELR
Judge:Charleton J.











JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Charleton delivered on the 11th day of March, 2009

  1. This case concerns a 22 year old Nigerian woman who wishes to remain in Ireland with her Nigerian mother, on whom she is not dependant, and with her two much younger sisters who are Irish citizens. The respondent Minister has decided to deport her. She seeks leave to commence a judicial review challenge to that decision. Her two Irish sisters were born in October, 2000 and February, 2005. I understand that both became citizens of Ireland by virtue of section 6 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended by ss. 3 and 4 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004. On this there is no dispute and so I think it is right to simply refer to them as Irish children. Shortly before the birth of her first Irish sister, when she was then fourteen years of age, her mother left the applicant behind in Nigeria and came to Ireland. Her mother has been granted leave to stay in Ireland as a foreign national until the year 2012 to take care of the two Irish children. The Nigerian father of the family was granted temporary leave to remain in the State from October, 2001 on the same basis. This was renewed annually until 2004. As he was then discovered to be no longer living with his children and was, therefore, no longer covered by the terms of the administrative scheme allowing temporary residence to foreign nationals who are the parents of Irish children, the respondent Minister signed a deportation order in respect of him in June, 2004. He has evaded this.

  2. In April, 2007 the applicant arrived in the State, not having lived with her mother since the year 2000. She then made an application for asylum claiming that she was being persecuted in Nigeria. Since the facts upon which she based her failed application were not the subject of any adverse credibility finding by the Refugee Applications Commissioner or by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, the relevant statutory bodies, I make no comment on them. Her claim related to a matter that could not, in any event, have been described as state-sponsored persecution. It was a private matter. The statutory bodies decided that there was no evidence of any failure in Nigeria to provide an adequate criminal justice system to which she could have chosen to have resort.

  3. The applicant is the subject of a deportation order dated the 18th September, 2008. This deportation order was made by the Minister following an analysis, by two officials, and in two separate documents, of the circumstances of the applicant within the State. Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, requires that before the Minister decides to deport someone from the State, particular issues should be considered and these include the humanitarian considerations whereby leave to remain in the State may be granted at his discretion. In addition, prior to deporting a person the Minister must consider the prohibition on refoulement and the bar on a return to a place where there is a reasonable possibility of a deportee being tortured; s.5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended and s.4 of the Criminal Justice (UN Convention Against Torture) Act 2000, as amended. Further, a deportee may also assert that a deportation would breach their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights or the Constitution of Ireland. This last claim is what is at issue here. The relevant statutory procedure was followed in this case. Briefly, on the failure of the applicant's claim for political asylum in the State, the Minister wrote to her seeking reasons as to why she should not be deported. This letter also pointed out that she could leave the State and could thereafter apply for a visa to visit here but that if a deportation order was made, she would not be entitled to re-enter the State while it continued in force. The applicant sought permission to remain in Ireland. She claimed rights pursuant to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 41 of the Constitution. She argued that a factual matrix of family circumstances sufficient to assert such rights existed between her Nigerian mother, resident in the State, and her two Irish sisters. This was rejected by the Minister.

    The Minister's Analysis

  4. Two separate analyses of the applicant's file, including her representations seeking leave to remain in the State on family and on compassionate grounds, were conducted by officials within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform before the Minister made the deportation order. To my mind, this analysis was conducted fairly and accurately. An objection is taken to the applicant's father being described in that analysis as being, as it is put, "deportation evaded". The claim is that such a statement puts an objective outsider on warning that bias against this applicant might be unconsciously operating. This description to me to be no more than the recitation of a fact. There is nothing to suggest any form of prejudice. Failure to deal with a fact is more often argued as a ground for judicial review in these cases and it is prudent to recite the circumstances of an applicant in broad outline.

  5. It is also complained that an incomplete picture was given as to the applicant's connection with the State, and with her family, who include her two young Irish siblings. What is said in the analysis is that the applicant's "connection to the State lies in her application for asylum in the State". Both officials recommended deportation because this was regarded by them as being "in the interest of the common good to uphold the integrity of the asylum and immigration procedures of the State". A lengthy analysis was also conducted to ensure that returning the applicant to Nigeria was not contrary to s. 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, which prohibits refoulment to any country where the returnee will be subject to violence or other persecution.

  6. The argument advanced most strongly is that which attacks the consideration of the family unit conducted on behalf of the respondent. In particular, it is claimed that it is wrong to recite that there are "no exceptional reasons" why this entire family could not reside together in Nigeria; that no reference is made to Article 41 of the Constitution; and that the applicant's entitlement to family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is incorrectly rejected as a valid ground to be weighed in the balance against the entitlement of the State to deport failed asylum seekers. Under the heading "family life", the following appears in the relevant analysis document:-"Ms. Y. O. is single and resides with her mother, Ms. T. O. and two Irish siblings in the State. Ms. Y. O. arrived in the State on 05/04/2007 and has been residing with her mother and siblings for approximately one year and four months. It is noted that Ms. O.'s Irish citizen siblings, Ms. O. A. O. (DOB 04/10/2000) and Ms. O. O. O. (DOB 08/02/2005), have resided in the State since they were born, without the company of the applicant and that the children have been raised by their mother Ms. T. O.. While the applicant has only been involved in the children's lives for a short period of time, it cannot be said that she is acting in loco parentis to these children and therefore, it is not accepted that family life arises under Article 8 of the ECHR.

    Case law has established that without further elements of dependency involving more than normal emotional ties, family ties between adults do not necessarily attract the protection of Article 8 √úner v. Netherlands - No. 46410/99 (5th July, 2005). In this regard it is submitted that further elements of dependency involving more than normal emotional ties between the applicant and her mother do not exist in this case, therefore, family life which demands the respect of Article 8 of the ECHR does not arise between the applicant and her mother. It is further noted that Ms. Y. O. is 21...

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