AMK (a minor) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal & anor

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Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2014] IEHC 380
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:25 Jul 2014
Judge:Barr J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Asylum, Minor, Persecution, Refugee
Country of Origin:Afghanistan
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/6d44c176-37c0-442d-9bf1-cb51b26e91ad/2014_IEHC_380_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland

Facts:

The applicant claimed to be an Afghan national. He applied for asylum and said that his father and brother had been influential figures in the local Taleban organisation and were held responsible for many crimes by the inhabitants of their area. When the Taleban was overthrown, his father and brother were taken away by commanders loyal to the new authorities. They never returned and were presumed dead. Afterwards, the applicant lived for eight years with his mother at his maternal uncle’s house. He claimed to have been bullied and assaulted whilst growing up. When he reached adulthood, the locals feared he would behave as his father and brother had, and they requested the same commanders to deal with him. The commanders sent letters to his uncle demanding that the applicant be handed over, the last of which threatened that, if he was not, he would be killed, along with his uncle and his nephew. He claimed that his uncle went to the local police, who were unable to offer protection. They told him to go to Kabul, and ask a government agency for help. He claimed that that was impossible as the senders of the letters were, in effect, the authorities. The applicant went to the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in a different province, and spent around two weeks there with relatives. During that time, he said that people came to his uncle’s home to take him away and kill him. Another uncle entered negotiations with a trafficker and, on payment of $12,000, he arranged for the applicant to travel to Ireland by sea and road through Iran, Turkey and other unknown countries.

When asked by the Refugee Applications Commissioner why he did not seek asylum in either Iran or Turkey, the applicant stated that he did not do so because there was no asylum system in operation in either country. The Commissioner rejected this and made a negative recommendation on his application for asylum. The applicant appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, which affirmed the recommendation and also made an adverse credibility finding in which it criticised him for his failure to apply for asylum in those countries.The applicant challenged the Tribunal’s decision and impugned that finding. He pointed to country of origin information submitted by him in respect to the application of the Refugee Convention in Iran and Turkey indicating that, in Iran, there was no official asylum system nor any appreciable input on the part of the UNHCR in how refugees were catered for there and that, in Turkey, non-Europeans had no right to recognition as refugees and that the UNHCR had a limited role in relation to them.

Reasoning:

The court held that, in the light of the country of origin information, the Tribunal had erred in reaching the view that the UNHCR operated asylum systems in both Iran and Turkey and in not giving credence to the applicant’s explanation for not claiming asylum in those countries. It held that the error was material in that it contributed directly to the rejection of the applicant’s credibility. It was not possible to establish what weight this was given in rejecting his credibility, and it was therefore not possible to sever it from the other credibility findings made on his claim.

Decision:
The court accordingly quashed the Tribunal’s decision.

Decision:

The court accordingly quashed the Tribunal’s decision.

Principles:

If an applicant for asylum claims not to have claimed asylum in a country through which he passed en route to Ireland because it did not apply the Refugee Convention, a protection decision-maker will need to examine country of origin information to establish if it supports that claim. If it does, an applicant cannot be faulted for not claiming asylum in such a country.

A protection decision-maker which makes credibility findings and does not specify which of them it considers material to its decision runs the risk of its decision being quashed if an individual finding is held to be unsound by a court, as the court may find itself unable to establish the weight attached to such a finding by the decision-maker.

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