A v Minister for Justice [2013] IEHC 356

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Respondent/Defendant:Minister for Justice
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2013] IEHC 356, 19 July 2013
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:19 Jul 2013
Judge:MacEochaidh J.
Category:Refugee Law, Residence
Keywords:Dependant, Entry (Refusal of), Family Reunification, Refugee, Residence
Country of Origin:Iraq
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/6e3cfc21-3574-48f1-92f4-b36b2efaf939/2013_IEHC_356_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland

Facts

The applicant was an Iraqi national who had been granted refugee status in the State. He made a family reunification application in respect of his parents and two sisters, pursuant to Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996, which gives the Minister for Justice discretion to grant permission to a dependent member of the family of a refugee to enter and reside in the State. “Dependent member of the family” means any grandparent, parent, brother, sister, child, grandchild, ward or guardian of the refugee who is dependent on the refugee or is suffering from a mental or physical disability to such extent that it is not reasonable for him or her to maintain himself or herself fully.

The applicant contended that his parents suffered from medical conditions and that his eldest sister gave up her job as a lecturer to look after them, and that his father was not entitled to a pension. He stated that he transferred funds to the family and provided evidence of this.

The Minister accepted, on the basis of the documentation submitted, that the applicant had established that the subjects of the application were his parents and sisters and that they came within the required “degree of relationship” provided in s. 18(4)(b) of the Act. However, he held that the documents submitted failed sufficiently to establish that they were suffering from a mental or physical disability to such an extent that it was not reasonable for them to maintain themselves fully.

The applicant contended that various medical conditions suffered by the applicant’s parents appeared to have been accepted by the Minister and that the conclusion on which the decision was based did not flow from the evidence.

As regards the alleged financial dependence on the applicant, the Minister had taken the view that the applicant’s sister could continue working as a lecturer. Although that he accepted that the applicant might be in a position to provide financial assistance to his family by sending money transfers from Ireland, he held that the family were not dependent on him.

The applicant contended that the Minister did not attach any or any proper weight to the regular money transfers made by him, or to the family ties and duties which rested on him as the eldest son in Iraqi culture.

Reasoning

The court held that the decision as to why it had not been established that the subjects of the application were not able to maintain themselves fully was not properly reasoned.

The court agreed with the dicta of Cooke J. in Hassan Sheekh Ali v. Minister [2011] IEHC 115 that the issue of dependency was one of fact as to whether the subjects of the application were, in their circumstances in the country of origin “dependent” in the sense of reliant for subsistence on the means and support of the refugee. It held that, in making such an assessment of dependency, the Minister was obliged to give a decision which should be rational and adequately reasoned.

Decision

The court concluded that the Minister had reached his decision on dependency on an irrational basis. It held that it was clear that there was evidence before him regarding the regular transfer of funds to the family by the applicant and yet there had been no mention made of them in the reasoning underpinning his decision. It held that there was also evidence before the Minister in relation to the current employment status of the applicant’s sister and that his finding in respect of her potential ability to work was unreasonable because it was based on speculation that she could potentially remain working in the university where she lectured. He had not taken proper account of clarifications of the family’s position provided at the investigative stage of the application. The court also held that the Minister had erred in fact in stating what the family’s monthly income and that this had a material effect on the outcome of his decision.

Principles:

In determining applications for family reunification based on dependency, the Minister is obliged to have regard to all of the evidence relating thereto, including any evidence showing that the subjects of the application are not able to maintain themselves fully or of transfer of funds from the applicant to the subject of the application. Determinations  refusing applications for family reunification must be properly reasoned, and if they are based on errors of fact or speculation,  they are liable to be set aside by the court.

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