JA v Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Others

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Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2015] IEHC 342
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:19 May 2015
Judge:Faherty J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Protection, Refugee
Country of Origin:Pakistan
Geographic Focus:Ireland

The applicant was a national of Pakistan who claimed asylum in Ireland on the basis that he had become involved in a land dispute with his cousin. He claimed that, in the course of the dispute, his cousin menaced him with a gun, but that he disarmed him and shot and wounded him. He then fled, fearing arrest, and went to Islamabad where he stayed for one and a half months. His cousin located his whereabouts, turning up at his house when he was out. He then decided to leave Pakistan and travelled with an agent to Ireland. He said that he travelled to Ireland by road and sea and spent the entire journey in trucks or containers.

The Tribunal made a number of credibility findings adverse to the applicant. Insofar as his travel was concerned, it held that he could not have travelled as he alleged and that it was not credible that he would have surrendered his passport to the agent. Turning to the dispute with his cousin, it found aspects of his account of shooting his cousin to be incredible. It did not consider credible his claim to have been out when his cousin arrived in Islamabad, and considered that his cousin would likely have awaited his return. The applicant had submitted a copy of a record of a complaint filed with the Pakistani police by his cousin’s family. The Tribunal considered the narrative in the complaint to differ from the applicant’s, and held that that undermined his credibility. It also considered that state protection and internal relocation were available to the applicant. Finally, it rejected the applicant’s contention that he formed a member of a particular social group, comprising landowners in Pakistan.

The applicant challenged the Tribunal’s decision by way of judicial review. The court upheld the decision.

The court held that some of the adverse credibility findings were unsafe. It held that a number of findings made about the applicant’s travel were speculative and not based on fact. In its view, it was possible that he could have travelled in containers and trucks without being detected. It also considered it possible that he gave his passport to the agent and that the agent dealt with immigration controls on behalf of the applicant. Turning to the police report, it considered that the Tribunal had doubt as to its authenticity and ought to have explained why in the decision. Moreover, the fact that the statements in the report differed from his account was explicable by the likelihood that his cousin would have given a different version of events to the police.

Although the court considered that the decision could be quashed by reference to those findings, given that it could not be said what weight was attributed to them by the Tribunal, it went on to consider the finding on state protection and the question of whether the claim disclosed a convention nexus.

The Tribunal had noted that the applicant had never gone to the police to give his version of events concerning the shooting of his cousin, notwithstanding that his wife could corroborate his story of what happened. There was no evidence that he could not avail of state protection. The court upheld that finding.

The court also upheld the finding that the applicant did not form part of a particular social group comprising landowners in Pakistan. It noted that the applicant had not challenged that finding but had, instead, sought to argue before the court that the correct particular social group was “family” in that the applicant was part of a family involved in a feud over land. There was therefore no convention nexus in the claim advanced by the applicant and, although some of the credibility findings were unsound, they were capable of being severed, with the decision of the Tribunal being upheld.

The court upheld the Tribunal’s decision.


A claim for refugee status will fail if there is no convention nexus within the meaning of s. 2 of the Refugee Act 1996, or if the applicant can access state protection in his or her country of origin.

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