AA v Minister for Justice

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Respondent/Defendant:Minister for Justice
Court/s:Court of Appeal
Citation/s:[2019] IECA 272
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial review/Appeal
Judgment Date/s:29 Oct 2019
Judge:Baker M
Category:Citizenship
Keywords:Citizenship, Citizenship (Acquisition of), Naturalisation
Country of Origin:Sudan
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/6fa3e072-a7c6-4342-9192-40c3aeace2fb/2019_IECA_272_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Sudan

Facts: the applicant was a Sudanese national who unsuccessfully applied for asylum in the State but was subsequently granted permission to reside in the State on the basis of marriage. The applicant had two children with her husband, both of whom were Irish citizens, and subsequently applied for naturalisation. The application was refused by the Minister on the basis that the applicant lacked credibility and was therefore not of good character; this finding was based partly on the fact that the applicant had claimed asylum on the basis of a fear of persecution in Sudan, which application had been refused, and also that she had subsequently returned to Sudan. Reference was also made to the circumstances surrounding the fact that the applicant had applied to the Sudanese authorities for a passport.
In the High Court, O’Regan J dismissed the application for judicial review (AA v Minister for Justice [2016] IEHC 466]) holding that the applicant had not made out a case that the Minister had acted in an arbitrary, capricious or autocratic manner. O’Regan J also held that the Minister was not obliged in the naturalisation process to give advance notice to an applicant of an adverse consideration of which the applicant is already aware, such as the refusal of her asylum application. The applicant appealed against that decision.

Reasoning: The Court of Appeal rejected the applicant’s complaint that inadequate reasons were given for the refusal of her application, and also rejected the contention that the Minister should have notified her in advance of the matters going to good character on which the Minister intended to rely. However, the Court of Appeal upheld the applicant’s complaint that the Minister was not entitled to place reliance on the fact that her asylum application had been refused in circumstances where her appeal against the refusal of refugee status was ultimately withdrawn because she had been granted permission to reside in the State on the basis of her marriage. Insofar as the Minister relied on the fact that the applicant had travelled back to Sudan less than a year after she withdrew her refugee appeal, Baker J noted that the Minister did not have the asylum file before her and there was nothing on the documents before her which showed the basis on which asylum was sought or why it was refused. In those circumstances, it was held that the Minister’s decision was flawed on grounds of reasonableness and the appeal was therefore allowed.

Decision: Appeal allowed.

Principles:The Minister was not entitled to refuse an application for naturalisation on good character grounds because the applicant had made an unsuccessful application for asylum in circumstances where her appeal against the refusal of refugee status was ultimately withdrawn because she had been granted permission to reside in the State on the basis of marriage.
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