The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court decision to uphold the findings of adverse credibility against an asylum seeker (Mr. A.) by the then Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The Court of Appeal overturned the decision and held that the Refugee Appeals Tribunal had failed to comply with the obligation to examine all relevant material under the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.
The point of law was “Whether an asylum decision maker is obliged to engage in a narrative discussion of country of origin information in a case where such information is not being positively rejected (in the sense that the decision is positively inconsistent with such information, as opposed to simply that the information is not considered to be relevant, necessary for the decision or sufficiently supportive of the claim made) including where the credibility of the applicant is being rejected generally.”
The applicant had arrived in Ireland in 2011 claiming asylum. The applicant’s case was that he had previously been the leader of the youth section in his own local area of the Ivorian Popular Front in the Ivory Coast (“Front Populaire Ivoirien”)(“FPI”) and that he had been forced to flee the country in May 2011 after the outbreak of extensive civil conflict, following the disputed outcome of a general election. An Amnesty International report documented wanton killings by both sides of the conflict, with indiscriminate use of live ammunition, mortar shelling to supress street protests, extra judicial killings and summary executions. According to the applicant his house had been burnt down, necessitating him going into hiding, and eventually fleeing to Ireland.
When his case was first considered by the Office of Refugee Appeals commissioner, his application for refugee status was denied due to credibility issues such as being unable to name prominent members of the group he claimed to be a part of during the conflict, or the names of several militias active at the time, as well as other inconsistencies with established reports. He appealed to the Refugee Appeal Tribunal in November, and again to the High Court relying on Article 5(1) of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 transposed into Irish law by S.I. No 518 2006. It outlines which matters should be taken into account when making decisions on granting asylum: “all relevant facts as they relate to country of origin….including laws and regulations of the country of origin and the manner in which they are applied…. The relevant statements and documentation presented by the… applicant, including information on whether he or she has been or may be subject to persecution…” The High Court rejected his application and he appealed to the Court of Appeal.
Judge Hogan, delivering judgement on behalf of the Court of Appeal held; although Article 5(1) of the Regulations does not impose an obligation to consult country of origin information in every case, the tribunal member who made the initial decision was obliged to consider the country of origin information relevant to any credibility assessment of the applicant’s claims, since these claims involved specific details in relation to events which took place that were not generally known outside of the Ivory Coast. Judge Hogan concluded that the tribunal member failed to comply with their obligations under Article 5(1)(b) of the 2006 Regulations and granted an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the tribunal.
To read the full judgement click here