AA (Nigeria) v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Ireland and the Attorney General

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Respondent/Defendant:Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Ireland and the Attorney General
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2015] IEHC 47
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:04 Feb 2015
Judge:Eagar J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Asylum, Asylum (Application for), Persecution, Refugee, Refugee Law
Country of Origin:Nigeria
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/6a48849d-2dd3-4693-970b-a72fad0fb325/2015_IEHC_47_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland

Facts:
The applicant was a citizen of Nigeria who arrived in Ireland in 2009 and applied for asylum in 2010 after being apprehended by the Gardaí in the course of routine duties.

In his ASY1 form, he indicated that he had come to Ireland for medical assistance. In his questionnaire, he mentioned family problems and health problems. Only during his interview with the Refugee Applications Commissioner did he claim that he was being sought by the ruling party in Nigeria for having been a member of an opposing party, arising out of which he had become involved in a riot in 1999, injuring his eye. He failed to disclose that he had previously sought refugee status in Austria, only confirming this when the Commissioner put it to him. He said that he left Austria before his application was finalised and returned to Nigeria, before leaving for the State.

Having investigated his application, the Refugee Applications Commissioner recommended that he not be declared a refugee. He appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, which affirmed the Commissioner’s recommendation. He challenged its decision by way of judicial review.
The Tribunal considered that his claim lacked credibility because, first, he had not mentioned prior to the interview with the Commissioner that he had had political difficulties in Nigeria. Secondly, it held that if the authorities were interested in him, they would have had ample opportunity to detain or confront him when he returned to Nigeria from Austria. Thirdly, it held that even if the damage to his eye had been politically motivated, it was a single act which had taken place many years ago and did not amount to persecution. Finally, it took the view that his lack of candour about his asylum application in Austria called into question his general credibility.

The applicant submitted that reg. 5 (1) of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 were breached by the Tribunal, particularly in that country of origin information had not been consulted by it. He contended that it had not investigated his claim properly. The Tribunal contended that he had failed to give a full account of his movements since leaving Nigeria and that he had not provided any evidence to support his claim.

Reasoning:
The court held that the basis of his claim was unclear and that the Tribunal was entitled, when assessing his credibility, to have regard to the issues relating to his application for refugee status in Austria, his alleged decision to leave Austria and return to Nigeria before coming to Ireland, and his arrest here. It considered reasonable the Tribunal’s conclusion that his lack of candour called into question his general credibility and reflected negatively on his stated claim.

Decision:
The court accordingly refused his application for leave and upheld the Tribunal’s decision.

Principles:

Lack of candour by a person when making an application for international protection may be taken into account by a protection decision-maker when assessing credibility.

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