Facts: The appellant was a Romanian national of Roma ethnicity who arrived in Ireland in 2001 and was granted asylum in 2004 on the basis that he had suffered persecution at the hands of the Romanian police on account of his ethnicity. He became a naturalised Irish citizen in 2015. In 2010, a European Arrest Warrant was issued by the relevant Romanian authorities seeking the surrender of the appellant and his return to Romania to face serious criminal charges. However, the Minister did not seek to stand over the requested surrender at that time on the basis that the appellant’s refugee status precluded his surrender to Romania. In 2018 a second EAW was issued by the Romanian authorities to serve a sentence of four years imprisonment which had been imposed following a trial in absentia on the charges which were the subject of the first EAW. When the matter came ultimately before the High Court for hearing in 2020 the Minister accepted that the appellant’s refugee status remained a bar to his surrender albeit it was indicated to the court that revocation of the appellant’s refugee status was being considered at that point. Subsequently the appellant was notified of the Minister’s intention to revoke his refugee status under section 52 of the International Protection Act 2015 on the basis of the change in circumstances in Romania since he had been granted asylum including its accession to the EU in 2007. The appellant was invited to make representations within 15 working days of the notification. The appellant’s solicitor wrote to the Minister complaining that the proposal to revoke his refugee status was unlawful because it only materialised after the EAW proceedings. The Minister subsequently revoked the appellant’s refugee status on the basis of a significant and non-temporary change in circumstances in Romania since the appellant had been granted asylum. The appellant filed an appeal to the Circuit Court against this decision and then issued judicial review proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the decision to revoke his refugee status on both procedural and substantive grounds. The High Court dismissed his application for judicial review and the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.
Reasoning: The Court of Appeal upheld the appellant’s complaint that the Minister’s decision to revoke his refugee status had failed to undertake the necessary individualised assessment. Thus, it was not sufficient to point to reforms of the judiciary and improvements in both the human rights situation and economy in Romania in general, without also addressing the factors relied upon by the appellant at the time he was granted asylum i.e. his Roma ethnicity and his treatment by the Romanian police in the context of the criminal justice system.
Decision: The decision of the Minister to revoke the appellant’s refugee status was quashed.