Refugee appeals cases the last to be hidden behind the “veil of secrecy”, says Irish Refugee Council

Posted On: 5 April 2013

The Irish Refugee Council is calling for the ‘veil of secrecy’ which conceals the determinations and practices of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal to be lifted, following on the successful introduction of measures to improve transparency in child care cases.  Similar to child care cases, refugee appeal hearings are conducted in private and decisions of the Tribunal are not published.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, says: “The strict enforcement of the privacy rule in refugee appeal cases means that legal practitioners, judges and NGOs have very limited access to see how the law is being applied and where it is being applied inconsistently by individual Tribunal members.”

“The child law project has shown that transparency can be introduced without compromising the privacy of the vulnerable individuals involved.  There is no justification for this continuing secrecy by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal”.

In 2011, 93% of asylum seekers were refused at oral appeal and 98% were refused where the appeal was  without an oral hearing.  The High Court has been highly critical of the standard of investigation and reasoning in Tribunal decisions.  Common complaints include a failure to consider relevant evidence, concentration on issues peripheral to the protection claim, and lack of independent assessment.


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Media Queries:

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–          Sue Conlan is available for interview.  Contact Sharon Waters at 085 8585 510.

–          The Refugee Appeals Tribunal is an ostensibly independent, quasi-judicial body which hears appeals from refusals of applications for asylum.

–          The Tribunal is staffed by part-time members who are paid on a per case basis.

–          Where an oral hearing is granted, hearings are held in private.  Neither decisions of the Tribunal nor the guidelines of the chair of the Tribunal are published.  NGOs and journalists are not permitted to attend hearings, nor are appellants permitted to invite NGOs or friends to be present at the hearings for moral support.

–          1,193 applications for judicial review in High Court – a 24% decrease on 2010 – 59% of applications relate to asylum