High Court decision is an indictment of the Refugee Appeal Tribunal and its defence by the Department of Justice says Irish Refugee Council

Posted On: 4 February 2013

Decision-making in the asylum appeals process continues to show a ‘culture of disbelief’ and a lack of justice and fairness says the Irish Refugee Council,  following  a decision of the High Court in which the asylum decision-making bodies were criticised as “apparently hostile”, “selective” in their reliance on evidence and lacking “basic fairness”.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, says:

“This case reaffirms the evidence obtained by the Irish Refugee Council in its recent research on the assessment of credibility that suggests that the decision-making process itself is seriously defective and placing people at risk of return to persecution. Changes to legislation will not improve the asylum process unless there is greater transparency and public scrutiny of decision-making.”

In 2012, the Irish Refugee Council carried out a systematic review of documents which form the basis of decision-making for asylum applications in Ireland, in order to get a better understanding of why the majority of applications for refugee status in this country are refused. The evidence obtained in this study indicated that the process itself tended to lead to a rejection of asylum claims, sometimes on very limited grounds.  In addition, particularly where the Tribunal is concerned, there are reasons to believe that there is a ‘culture of disbelief’ that informs the approach that some Tribunal Members take.

The case handed down by Mrs Justice Clarke related to an Ahmadi Muslim man who feared persecution if returned to Pakistan based on attacks on his family members.  Mrs Justice Clarke was especially critical of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, stating that its decision did not appear to reflect an independent assessment and gave undue deference to the initial decision-maker.   She was also critical of the position of the state in defending the decision and in refusing to co-operate over an early full hearing of the case.

Sue Conlan stated:  “The Department of Justice is quick to place the blame for court challenges and delays on asylum seekers but this case clearly shows that the state must also take responsibility for not only placing people at risk but also wasting court time and public money.”


Further information:

Sharon Waters                  085 858 5510/ 085 133 2502 / Sharon@irishrefugeecouncil.ie


  • The full judgment in the High Court, S. R. [Pakistan] v The Refugee  Appeals Tribunal, the Minister for Justice, the Attorney General and Ireland , (29 January 2013), judgment of Mrs Justice Maureen      Clarke is available by contacting Sharon Waters at Sharon@irishrefugeecouncil.ie