IRC submission to the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance highlights continuing failures in the asylum process

Posted On: 25 November 2011

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC ) has criticised the state for maintaining systems that are time consuming, costly and hugely damaging to asylum seekers in order to make Ireland an unattractive place in which to claim asylum in its submission to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ERCI).

Sue Conlan, chief executive of the IRC says: “In 2006, ECRI recommended a reduction in the length of the asylum process and reform of the appeals process to improve transparency and accountability. Almost six years later, little has changed and there are significant safeguards and procedural protections missing from the Irish asylum system that place those claiming asylum at a disadvantage.”

The deficiencies highlighted in the IRC’s submission include: the absence of early legal advice for preparing applications for asylum; the lack of independently-accredited interpreters; and the lack of either legal representation at interview and/or tape recording of interviews.  In relation to appeals, the IRC criticises the lack of transparency throughout the appeals process from the appointment and assignment of Tribunal members to the conduct of the appeal, as well as the lack of opportunity to challenge a decision that a person is not a refugee on wider human rights grounds.

“A lack of transparency and accountability persists in the appeals system and will not be addressed by proposals for a Protection Review Tribunal in the proposed Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill as it stands.  Therefore, cases will continue to be challenged in the High Court with all of the costs and delays that that entails,” says Sue Conlan.

The Immigration, Residence and Protection (IRP) Bill was at committee stage when the last Dáil fell. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has stated the bill will be brought back to committee stage at an early date.

However, the proposed new bill will not affect the many men, women and children who are currently in the asylum system, unable to work and dependent on the state in Direct Provision accommodation.

Sue Conlan says: “At least a third of those in Direct Provision have been there for at least three years.  In addition, at least a third of Direct Provision residents are children, many of them born in Ireland, who are growing up not only in a form of institutionalisation but also in poverty. There are no known recommendations from the state as to how it proposes to deal
with the backlog or the problems which are exacerbated or indeed created as a result of the system of support and accommodation that it utilises.”

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, citizenship, colour, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance.  ECRI will carry out a visit to Ireland in the first half of 2012 as part of its country-by-country monitoring cycle.



Further information:

Sharon Waters                        085 8585 510