Thursday, December 11, 2014

CASE SUMMARY: CA V REFUGEE APPEALS TRIBUNAL (2014) IEHC 504

On the 1st of October 2014, Barr J of the High Court directed that the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal to refuse an asylum application to a Nigerian national be referred back to the Tribunal for a further decision before a different member of the Tribunal. The applicant in this case claimed that he was fearful of returning to his country on grounds of his sexuality. The High Court held that the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) fell short of its duty to give a clear, reasoned and rational decision for its refusal. 

Many aspects of the RAT decision were criticised by Budd J in this case. Budd J stated that the RAT did not take into account the country of origin information submitted by the applicant. The Tribunal had found that the applicant in this case was "unlikely to face persecution from State agents in Nigeria.” Budd J stated that this ran contrary to the information submitted by the applicant on his previous treatment in Nigeria that included beatings by police officers. Similarly, Budd J rejected the Tribunal’s finding that the applicant could relocate internally to the city of Lagos safely. The learned judge found that on the facts, such internal relocation was not a viable option for the applicant. The High Court instead found that there was strong evidence that homosexuals did not live openly in Lagos for fear of persecution. 

The Tribunal had stated that the applicant's reasons for not claiming asylum in the United Kingdom were not plausible. The Tribunal generally did not find the applicant’s story credible. Budd J however held that it is not sufficient to merely state that the applicant’s version of events was implausible; the decision of the RAT must be supported by reasons. 

The Tribunal had also stated that: "It is clear from the information provided by the applicant that he has not suffered any persecution for a Convention reason in Nigeria, nor is he likely to face persecution upon returning to his country of origin.” Budd J stated that this was not sustainable as the Tribunal failed to give adequate reasoning for this assertion. The learned judge also stated that there is no requirement on the applicant to prove that he is likely to suffer torture or inhumane or degrading treatment, rather the proof required is that he has a well-founded fear of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment. 

Budd J in the case granted leave to the applicant to seek certiorari of the decision of the Tribunal and he made an order quashing the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Budd J directed that the case be referred back to the Tribunal for a further decision before a different member of the Tribunal.

Rebecca Keatinge

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