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Written Answers. - Asylum Applications.

Wednesday, 6 February 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 547 No. 4

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 173. Mr. McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue  if a person (details supplied) has been re-admitted into the asylum process. [3692/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue I am informed that this applicant was readmitted to the asylum process on 1 February 2002 and that his case is being referred to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner for consideration.

 174. Mr. McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue  if a submission, made by the Tramore refugee and asylum seekers support group, will be considered as part of the appeal of a person (details supplied); the status of this application; and the timeframe for the appeal. [3693/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue Under the Refugee Act, 1996, two independent statutory offices were established to consider applications-appeals for refugee status and make recommendations to the Minister on whether such status should be granted.

These two offices are the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, which considers applications for a declaration as a refugee at first instance and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal which considers applications for a declaration at appeal stage.

I understand that the person concerned has lodged judicial review proceedings against the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on this case until the judicial review is determined.

 175. Mr. McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue  the circumstances under which observers are permitted to attend interviews with applicants for refugee status; his views on a submission made by the Tramore refugee and asylum seekers support group for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3694/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The primary role of the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner is to investigate each application made for a declaration of refugee status in accordance with the provisions of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended.

The Act provides for applicants to be interviewed and these are conducted by staff who have received formal training in interviewing for the purposes of the Act. The objective of the inter[1632] view is to provide applicants with the opportunity to fully explain their circumstances and fears in order to determine whether a case for a declaration of refugee status exists based on the grounds contained in section 2 of the Refugee Act 1996.

At all stages of the process applicants are informed of the entitlement to consult a solicitor-legal representative and of the availability of the refugee legal service, an independent body which provides, for a nominal fee, legal assistance to those applying for a declaration as a refugee. Attendance at interview is determined by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner in advance and is usually confined to the applicant and his-her legal representative and interpreter, if required. The solicitor-legal representative at interview may make representations or comments at the end of the interview, or in writing within seven days of completion of the interview. Where issues such as trauma are considered by applicants to be relevant to their case, it is open to applicants and their legal representatives to submit medical or other evidence in support of their claim prior to or at interview, or within seven working days after the interview. In addition, applicants have access to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which has a number of important statutory rights under the Refugee Act 1996, including the right to be informed of applications and to make representations in relation to such applications.

In conducting each interview, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner seeks to protect the interests and keep confidential the claim of the applicant, and protect the integrity of the asylum process. Requests from persons who wish to be present at an interview other than applicants' solicitors are considered on a case by case basis having regard to the circumstances of the individual case, the principles outlined above, and the reasons for the request.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on individual applications for refugee status having regard to the fact that applications by their nature are made in confidence with the expectation by the applicant that such confidence will be preserved. Any submission made in relation to an application, such as the submission referred to by the Deputy, will be given due consideration by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner in the case in question.

 176. Mr. McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue  the status of an application for asylum by a person (details supplied). [3695/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 136 of 31 January last in relation to the asylum application of this person. I am informed that a translation of a document relevant to this case is currently awaited and I [1633] expect the file to be submitted to me for decision very shortly once this is received.


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