MA v Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Minister for Justice and Equality, Attorney General and Ireland

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Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Minister for Justice and Equality, Attorney General and Ireland
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2015] IEHC 528
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:31 Jul 2015
Judge:MacEochaidh J.
Category:Refugee Law
Keywords:Refugee
Country of Origin:Pakistan
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/b5e1fbd7-b20b-43bf-a23d-ad90cf6a2521/2015_IEHC_528_1.pdf/pdf#view=fitH
Geographic Focus:Ireland

Facts:
The applicant, a national of Pakistan, applied for asylum in Ireland. His application failed before the Refugee Applications Commissioner on credibility grounds and a section 13(6) finding was made which meant that his appeal to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal was on the papers only. In affirming the recommendation of the Commissioner, the Tribunal made a number of new credibilty findings and found that internal relocation was available to him.

The court upheld the Tribunal’s decision following the applicant’s challenge to it.

Reasoning:
The applicant challenged the decision of the Tribunal on the basis that it ought not to have made such findings against him without putting them to him for comment beforehand.

The court rejected that argument. It held that where the Tribunal intended to make negative credibility findings based on statements made by the applicant during the asylum process, whether on a papers only appeal or on an oral appeal, there was no obligation to revert to him or to give him an opportunity of explaining perceived inconsistencies, contradictions, implausibilities or any other circumstances arising from what he had personally said during the application process, which led the Tribunal Member to conclude that credibility should be rejected. It held that the Tribunal was no more required to do that than a judge hearing such evidence and minded to make an adverse finding against the witness. It held that the fact that the negative credibility finding had been made on a papers only appeal was irrelevant. It rejected the reliance placed by the applicant on Hathaway’s The Law of Refugee Status for the contrary position.

The court considered a number of situations where matters might have to be put to an applicant for comment, such as where a witness might be given an opportunity of commenting on evidence to be given by another witness which contradicted his own evidence, or where reliance might be placed on material unknown to him, such as country of origin information which contradicted his narrative. However, an applicant was to be assumed to be aware of what he had said during the asylum process and, even on a paper appeal, such a person had a full opportunity to address any inconsistencies or other matters arising out of the application process. In the instant case, no negative credibility finding had been made which was based on material unknown to the applicant.

The court also agreed with the Tribunal that there was no obligation on it to have considered country of origin information pertaining to the claim, because the applicant was not considered subjectively credible. It also held that, even if the internal relocation finding was unlawful, it was severable from the credibility findings.

The court held that it had no jurisdiction to extend time in the absence of “good and sufficient” reason being advanced by the applicant. It held that, as it had decided to refuse the application for leave on substantive grounds, it would await a further case to rule on the question of whether such an explanation needed to be on affidavit.

Decision:
The court refused leave to challenge the Tribunal’s decision.

Principles:

Where a protection decision-maker intends to make negative credibility findings based on statements made by the applicant during the protection process (including whether on a papers only appeal or on an oral appeal), there is no obligation to revert to him or her or to give him or her an opportunity of explaining perceived inconsistencies, contradictions, implausibilities or any other circumstances arising from what he or she had personally said during the application process, which lead the decision-maker to conclude that credibility should be rejected.

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