The applicant was an Albanian national who was stalked by a co-worker who vandalised her husband’s car and subsequently fired shots at her husband. The appellant subsequently moved to Tirana but her stalker found her and further intimidated her there. The appellant claimed her stalker enjoyed political influence and/or protection in Albania so her complaints to the police were not effective, and therefore she fled Albania and claim asylum in Ireland. Almost all of the elements of the applicant’s claim were accepted by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal which nonetheless rejected her appeal on the basis that there was no Convention nexus to her claim, and that she had not shown that effective State protection would be unavailable to her if she was to return to Albania. The applicant applied to the High Court for judicial review of the Tribunal decision.
The High Court found in favour of the applicant on the basis that the Tribunal had erred in its assessment of the impact of the fact that Albania has been designated as a safe country of origin in Irish law (by the International Protection Act 2015 (Safe Countries of Origin) Order 2018 (SI No.121/2018). Barrett J noted that while a designation of a safe country of origin was not lightly made, and had practical and legal significance, the 2015 Act stated that a safe country of origin shall be considered to be a safe country of origin “only where… the applicant has not submitted any serious grounds for considering the country not to be a safe country of origin in his or her particular circumstances and in terms of his or her eligibility for international protection”. Barrett J was satisfied from the evidence before the court that the applicant had submitted such “serious grounds”, and that this was a more imposing feature of the case than the fact of designation simpliciter.
Decision: Decision quashed.