Damache v Minister for Justice

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Damache v Minister for Justice
Respondent/Defendant:Minister for Justice
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2019] IEHC 444
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial review
Judgment Date/s:31 May 2019
Judge:Humphreys R
Category:Citizenship
Keywords:Citizenship, Citizenship (Loss of), Naturalisation
Country of Origin:Algeria
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/790861e8-22ef-44de-9e1b-8401147bed00/2019_IEHC_444_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH

Facts

The applicant was an Algerian national who had been granted a certificate of naturalisation but subsequently pleaded guilty in the United States to a charge of materially assisting in an Islamist terrorist conspiracy. The Minister subsequently issued a proposal to revoke the applicant’s naturalisation on the basis that he had failed in his duty of loyalty and fidelity to the State. The applicant instituted judicial review proceedings challenging the procedure by which revocation of naturalisation is determined under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956. The applicant complained inter alia that that the fact that the Minister initiated the revocation process, appointed the committee charged with conducting the inquiry and then reached the final decision was in breach of the constitutional right to fair procedures.

Reasoning

Humphreys J rejected this complaint, holding that revocation is an executive decision made after an advisory inquiry before independent persons using fair procedures. The fact that members of the committee were appointed by the Minister did not mean that they were not independent. It was held that revocation of naturalisation was not a judicial function, and therefore was no right of appeal or a right of final approval reserved to the courts. Humphreys J held that it would be a breach of the separation of powers to so demand. Humphreys J also rejected the applicant’s complaint of bias as not being founded on any evidence, and also rejected as “legally unsound” the challenge to the constitutionality of s.19 of the 1956 Act. Similarly, Humphreys J rejected the submission that s.19 of the 1956 Act was incompatible with arts 6 and 13 of the ECHR, noting that art.6 does not apply to public law and that art.13 only applied in a derivative sense where another Convention right was engaged, but in any event was satisfied that judicial review was an effective remedy for the purposes of that article. Humphreys J also rejected the applicant’s complaint that the revocation procedure was in breach of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Finally, the court was of the view that the challenge was premature in circumstances where the inquiry had not yet taken place.

Decision: Application dismissed.

Principles:Section 19 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 was not unconstitutional or incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
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