DA (A minor) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Others

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Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Minister for Justice and Equality, Ireland and Attorney General
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2015] IEHC 208
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:04 Mar 2015
Judge:Eagar J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Child, Minor, Persecution, Refugee
Country of Origin:Pakistan

The applicant was born in Ireland to parents from Pakistan who claimed to be Ahmadi Muslims. Application for asylum was made on her behalf on the basis of fear of persecution as an Ahmadi Muslim. It was said that her father was a preacher in Pakistan and that, when she grew up, she would become a preacher too. Similar applications for asylum which had been made by her parents had failed. Her application was equally unsuccessful before the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, which was influenced by the fact that her parents’ claims had failed and that they were considered to be unexceptional Ahmadis and not at risk of persecution in Pakistan. She challenged the Tribunal’s decision and the High Court quashed it.

It noted that the country of origin information provided numerous examples of the difficulties for Ahmadis in Pakistan. In its view, the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in C-71/11 and C-99/11 Y and Z v Germany was of decisive importance, concerning as it did two Ahmadis from Pakistan and establishing that, for the purpose of determining which acts could be regarded as constituting persecution within the meaning of Article 9(1)(a) of the Qualification Directive, it was unnecessary to distinguish acts that interfered with the “core areas” of the basic right to freedom of religion, which did not include religious activities in public, from acts which did not affect those purported “core areas.” The High Court considered that the CJEU’s understanding of the interpretation of Article 9(1) was that acts which might constitute a severe violation within the meaning of Article 9(1)(a) of the Qualification Directive included serious acts which interfered with an applicant’s freedom not only to practice his faith in private circles but also to live that faith publicly. It observed that the CJEU had held that such an interpretation was likely to ensure that Article 9(1) of the Directive would be applied in such a manner as to enable the asylum authorities to assess all kinds of acts which interfered with the basic right of freedom of religion in order to determine whether, by their nature or repetition, they were sufficiently severe as to be regarded as amounting to persecution. The High Court therefore concluded that there was no requirement for a person to be an “exceptional” Ahmadi to be entitled to refugee protection, and that the Qualification Directive indicated that serious acts which interfered with the applicant’s freedom not only to practice his faith in private but also to live that faith publicly were to be protected.

The court quashed the Tribunal’s decision.


The decision constitutes the application in Irish law of the decision of the CJEU in C-71/11 and C-99/11 Y and Z v. Germany and, as such, provides important guidance for asylum decision-makers on the extent to which freedom of religion may be subject to acts of persecution.

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