AS v Minister for Justice

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Respondent/Defendant:Minister for Justice and Equality
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2015] IEHC 417
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:07 Jul 2015
Judge:Stewart J.
Category:Deportation
Keywords:Country of Origin Information, Deportation, Deportation Order
Country of Origin:Bangladesh
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/6107ef1d-b6db-4bc3-92ca-b2c9dfd7a5c1/2015_IEHC_417_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland

Facts:
The applicant was a national of Bangladesh who unsuccessfully applied for asylum in Ireland and later became the subject of a deportation order. He claimed to have been a political activist in Bangladesh and to have been forced into hiding to escape the attentions of the authorities after he organised a secret opposition meeting. He omitted to mention that he had been granted two visas to enter the United Kingdom, one of which covered a period during which he claimed to have been in hiding. He then stated that he conducted those visits to the United Kingdom in order to visit some educational institution and to learn about the education system there. He said that he did not tell the Irish authorities about the visits as he feared he would be returned to the United Kingdom and deported to Bangladesh. He applied to revoke the deportation order, relying on political strife in Bangladesh, which he claimed would expose him to harm if returned there.

The Minister held that he was not at risk in Bangladesh as he had a low political profile and the political situation there had returned to normality, with the party of which he claimed to be a member participating in local elections with considerable success. Further, she disbelieved his narrative about why he had to flee Bangladesh, having regard to the fact that he was actually in the United Kingdom for a considerable period of the time he claimed to have been in hiding. She criticised him for drip-feeding information about his political activities there and cast doubt on the purity of his motives in becoming involved in politics in Bangladesh and, later, in Ireland.

He issued proceedings and obtained leave ex parte to challenge the affirmation by the Minister of the deportation order. He contended that deporting him would breach the prohibition against refoulement given ongoing political violence in Bangladesh and that the Minister had acted irrationally in concluding otherwise having regard to the country of origin information before her. He also contended that the Minister had erred in finding that his undisclosed trips to the United Kingdom undermined his claim to have organised a secret meeting which, when it was discovered, forced him into hiding. He criticised the characterisation of him by the Minister as an “accomplished networker” whose reasons for entering politics were less than pure.

The Minister contended that there was nothing in the material relied upon by him to support the suggestion that low-level members of his political party were at risk of harm and also argued that his claim was tainted by lack of candour, given that he was in the United Kingdom at a time when he had claimed to be in hiding and in fear of his life in Bangladesh.

The court refused the relief sought.

Reasoning:
The court held that the applicant had not made any attempt to explain why he had not disclosed the existence of a trip to the United Kingdom at a time when he was supposedly in hiding in Bangladesh. It held that he had shown a complete disregard for the authorities of the State up to and including the High Court in the manner in which he had persisted in that claim.

It rejected the contention that the Minister had erred in her assessment of country of origin information about the security situation in Bangladesh. It concluded that she had considered all relevant information and arrived at a rational and reasoned decision.

The court held that the Minister was entitled to characterise him as a networker based on the information before her. Her view was inextricably bound up with the story which the applicant had advanced and which had been found to be lacking in truth and credibility at all stages of the asylum process. She was also entitled to take the view that he had drip-fed information on his claim.

The court also took the view that the Minister was entitled to reject the applicant’s revocation application, given the assertions in support of it were not new or changed.

Finally, the court held that the applicant had withheld vital information from the authorities and pointed to s. 20(2) of the Refugee Act 1996, which penalised the giving of false or misleading information to the asylum authorities.

Decision:
The court therefore refused the relief sought by the applicant and upheld the validity of the affirmation of the deportation order.

Principles:

Where an applicant seeking to set aside a decision like the affirmation of a deportation order has relied in the revocation application upon assertions which are the same as assertions which underpinned earlier, unchallenged, unsuccessful applications for, for instance, protection, then he must set out some basis for contending that those decisions were wrong in order to be successful at the hearing.

An application for revocation of a deportation order must, in order to be successful, disclose new or changed circumstances. It is not permissible to withhold information and disclose it at a later stage in support of such an application.

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