Irish-born refugee child loses appeal over refusal of Irish passport
Father’s refugee status was revoked in 2014 on basis he had given false and misleading information in 2005
A seven-year-old boy who got refugee status here after being born here to an Afghan couple has lost his appeal aimed at being recognised as an Irish citizen.
The Minister for Justice refused the boy an Irish passport after his father’s refugee status was revoked in 2014 on the basis the father had given false and misleading information in 2005 when he sought asylum here, including not disclosing he had previously sought asylum in the UK.
The boy and his mother have refugee status and his father has since got permission to remain here following a family reunification application on foot of the mother’s refugee status. The boy’s younger sister holds an Irish passport.
In High Court proceedings, the boy, through his father, argued, because his father was resident in Ireland for the specified period set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, the refusal of the boy’s passport application should be quashed and he should be declared an Irish citizen.
The High Court rejected his claim the Minister erred in deciding he was not an Irish citizen despite his father having lived here for an aggregate of more than three years out of the four years immediately preceding his birth in 2013.
In a judgment on Thursday, a three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed the boy’s appeal against the High Court decision.
Outlining the background, Mr Justice Brian Murray said, when the father came here in 2005, he claimed he fled Afghanistan because he was at risk of persecution there because he had been born in Russia, was not a Muslim and his father had been killed by a mujahedin commander.
He got refugee status in 2006, married the boy’s mother in Pakistan in 2007 and she got permission in June 2012 to reside here on foot of a family reunification application. The father travelled to Afghanistan in September 2012 and was stopped by immigration officials at Dublin Airport on return with his wife in November 2012.
It emerged his fingerprints matched those of another man who unsuccessfully sought asylum in the UK in 2002 and was later recorded as an absconder by the UK Border Agency.
The father was later advised the Minister was revoking his refugee status with effect from August 2013 arising from false statements in his asylum application here, including that he left Afghanistan in 2004 and had not previously applied for asylum in any other country.
The boy was born in June 2013 and an application was made in February 2014 for an Irish passport for him. The Minister refused because he was not satisfied the boy was an Irish citizen. In February 2015, the boy and his mother both got refugee status, without prejudice to his argument he is an Irish citizen.
In the High Court case, the boy’s father accepted he failed to disclose in his Irish asylum application that he previously sought asylum in the UK. He said he feared, if he disclosed that, he would be returned to the UK and deported to Afghanistan. He said he had gone to visit his mother in Afghanistan in September 2012 and she had died shortly afterwards.
The revocation of the father’s refugee status was not challenged in the case, Mr Justice Murray noted.
The “undisputed” evidence was the residence permission granted to the father, on which the boy relied to ground his claim of citizenship, was obtained by the father through provision of false and misleading information.
That meant it was not a permission within the meaning of section 5.1 of the Immigration Act 2004 – which provides no non-national may be in the State other than in accordance with a permission of the Minister, he said.
The revocation of the father’s refugee status meant it was not in force when the father was physically present in the State and section 5.3 of the Act, which refers to members of the family of a refugee, did not operate to disapply section 5.1 insofar as the father’s residence was concerned, he said.
Therefore, the father’s presence in the State was not reckonable for the purposes of his son’s citizenship and the boy’s appeal must be dismissed, he concluded.