Friday, November 4, 2011

Supreme Court Judgment on the “Ejerwena” case, 28th October 2011

On the 28th October last, the Supreme Court delivered judgment in a case concerning a challenge against the detention of a non-national for Immigration offences.

The appeal to the Supreme Court by Gerard Ejerwena involved an enquiry into his detention by the State on 1st August 2011 in Dundalk Gardai station. It was argued before the High Court that his detention was unlawful under article 40.4.2 of the Constitution.  Therefore,  he was entitled to commence an enquiry, and the Court was required to hold an immediate hearing on a specific date and time known to investigate as to the lawfulness or not of his detention, and if not, to grant a “habeas corpus” order releasing him from unlawful detention. 

The facts of the case were as follows; the appellant was travelling on a bus which was headed for the Northern border which was stooped by he Gardai who then demanded that Mr Ejerwena produce proof of identification which he could not do. At the station he was asked to fill out a landing form, on which he stated that he was from Sierre Leone, however the Gardai did not accept this and ordered him to fill out another. On the second card he claimed to be Nigerian and due to suspicion of his identity, members of the Gardai deposed that the appellant was refused to leave land for not having a valid passport, a valid visa and also because he would try and travel to Northern Ireland where he would not have permission. Subsequently Mr Ejerwena was detained at Cloverhill Prison.

Mr Ejerwena appealed to the Supreme Court to the effect that the detention order in question was in fact defective. Firstly it was argued that the three main reasons that the Gardai stated for holding the appellant should have appeared on the face of the warrant. He also submitted that the document also did not show that the immigration officer had suspected with reasonable cause that the appellant had unlawfully been in the State for a continuous period less than three months. Furthermore various case law was mentioned by counsel for the appellant to the effect that in this case the Gardai had failed to demonstrate sufficient efforts to show (on the face of the document) the exact reasons for the refusal to leave land, so that in the event of an inevitable “habeas corpus” motion the court could efficiently and fairly examine the validity of the detention.

For these reasons the appellant was successful and Mr Ejerwena was released on 26th August 2011. 

3rd November 2011

Brophy Solicitors

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