Homeless mentally ill man in battle to prevent deportation

Case centres on issue whether Minister has duty to consider consequences of deportation

The case is due back before the High Court towards the end of this month.  Photograph: Alan Betson

The case is due back before the High Court towards the end of this month. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A legal battle aimed at stopping the deportation of a young homeless man with significant mental health issues will resume before the High Court later this month.

Psychiatrists have described the 21-year-old Nigerian man as unfit to travel. He is currently detained in the care of a mental health service and cannot access homeless services while the deportation order remains in being.

The core issue in his case concerns whether the Minister for Justice has a duty to consider the consequences of deportation for him, his family, society and the State’s mental health initiatives.

It is argued the State has a particular duty to protect the rights of weak and vulnerable citizens such as those suffering from a mental health disorder.

A deportation order was made almost a year ago for the man arising from his criminal behaviour and was served on him after he completed a year-long prison sentence.

After he came to Ireland as a four-year-old unaccompanied minor in March 2002, he was reunited with his mother, who was already here and had applied for asylum.

Asylum status

After she got asylum status in May 2002, she applied for family reunification but was refused in 2003 due to lack of appropriate documentation to confirm the identity of the child and his relationship to her.

A further family re-unification application was refused, for the same reason, in September 2013. The man was then in the care of Crosscare, a non-governmental organisation supporting migrants.

In 2016, Crosscare secured a Stamp 4 permission (permission to stay here for a specified period) for the man. That permission was not renewed after March 2018 due to his criminality.

A proposal to deport was issued by the Minister in November 2018 and the man was invited to make submissions in that regard.

The solicitor representing him in the criminal matter made submissions on his behalf in early February 2019, outlining her concerns about him and the consequences of making a deportation order.

After being informed on February 8th, 2019, that a deportation order had been made, following which the man was moved to Mountjoy Prison to await deportation, the solicitor wrote directly to the Minister asking that the deportation order be revoked.

She also sought an undertaking the man would not be deported while he was awaiting medical treatment in relation to his mental health.

Unfit to travel

When no undertaking was provided, High Court judicial review proceedings were initiated in late February 2019.

The court heard the man’s solicitor could not receive proper instructions from him concerning why a deportation order should not be made. She noted his mental health was also an issue in the criminal case. She referred to three medical reports dated in January and February 2019, which were produced to the criminal court, but had not been before the Minister in the deportation procedure.

The High Court was told a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital had provided a letter confirming the solicitor’s statement that her client had been deemed unfit to travel.

The psychiatrist had said she understood this information would be forwarded to Irish Prison Service Operations and shared with the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

The case is due back before the High Court towards the end of this month.