Dáil Éireann - Volume 399 - 14 June, 1990

Written Answers. - Asylum Seekers.

53. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons who have sought asylum or refugee status in this country since 1 January 1988; the number of successful applicants; the number of those who were consequently deported; and the number who left voluntarily.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The statistics regarding asylum seekers are as follows:

1988

1989

1990

Number of applications for asylum

49

36

32

Number of applications granted

2

1

Applications for refugee status refused but applicants allowed to remain

15

Applications under consideration

3

13

16

Applications refused (applicants left Ireland either to their own country or to another country)

27

22

16

Applicants who cannot be traced

2

54. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice if he is satisfied that each asylum seeker on disembarking in this State should be allowed immediate access to (a) an interpreter, (b) legal advice-solicitor and (c) a representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

55. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice if he will ensure that all persons fleeing human rights violations who seek protection in this State will not be returned directly to their country of origin, without proper and public examination of their claim for asylum or refugee status.

[2555] 57. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice if he is satisfied with the procedure at present being adopted at airports and ports to identify and care for asylum seekers who would be exposed to human rights violations if returned against their will to the country from which they have fled.

62. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the successful operation of a court of asylum in west coast airports of the United States of America for dealing with asylum seekers; if such an operation having been studied might be considered a desirable model for this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

63. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice if he supports the application of certain standards in relation to asylum seekers as set out in the relevant conclusions of the Executive Committee of the programme of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and in Recommendation R (81) 16 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe dealing with harmonisation of national procedures relating to asylum; and if any change in this procedure is envisaged.

64. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice if, in the course of an application for asylum by a non-national, he considers it desirable that the applicant should be afforded a complete personal interview undertaken by an official of his Department fully briefed and knowledgeable on international standards, relating to the protection of refugees and with the political situation in the country of origin of the applicant and that an avenue of appeal be available in the event of a rejection of the claim and that permission to remain in the State be granted pending the final outcome of the case.

65. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice if he is satisfied that sufficient safeguards are in place under the present law to prevent the forceable return of any person to a [2556] country of origin, where that person can reasonably be expected to be imprisoned as a prisoner of conscience or to be subjected to torture or execution.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to answer Questions Nos. 54, 55, 57, 62, 63, 64 and 65 together.

The arrangements that apply in these matters have been agreed between my Department and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Briefly, asylum applicants are interviewed in depth and if necessary the assistance of an interpreter is sought. The report of the interview is forwarded to UNHCR and the Department of Foreign Affairs for their observations.

Following receipt of these observations a decision is made by my Department on the application and by me personally in the case of all refusals.

I am satisfied, as is UNHCR, that the existing procedures are satisfactory but I do not rule out changes to these procedures which may be agreed between the member states of the EC in the context of the free movement of persons by 1993. I have no doubt that in such a context the views of UNHCR will be fully taken into account.

58. Mr. Carey and Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice if this country at present participates with other European countries in sharing and exchanging information on persons seeking asylum in this State; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The answer is “no” as far as personal information about individuals is concerned. Since its foundation the Council of Europe has concerned itself with refugee and asylum matters and, in that context, Ireland has kept fellow members of the Council informed of the general situation in Ireland. Similar exchanges take place within the EC since 1987. The information exchanged is essentially of a statistical kind.