Report criticises asylum decisions


A “CULTURE of disbelief” among some decision-makers in the asylum process is contributing to the rejection of the vast majority of asylum applications, a report on the issue says.

Authors of the report, Difficult to Believe: the assessment of asylum claims in Ireland, published this morning by the Irish Refugee Council, say asylum applicants with apparently legitimate claims for asylum are being denied protection here.

They are calling for an “urgent review” of the whole refugee application and appeals process.

Sue Conlan. chief executive of the council, said the study had been carried out “to get a better understanding of why the majority of applications for refugee status in this country are refused”.

While initial applications for asylum are made to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC), appeals are made to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

According to the report appellants face intense difficulties establishing their credibility with the appeals tribunal.

It says 135 people were accepted as refugees last year in Ireland - five per cent of the applications or appeals on which decisions were made.

“This was less than half the average in the EU. By contrast the number accepted in the UK for the same year was just over one in five of the applications decided that year, or 22 per cent – more than four times the average in Ireland.”

According to Ms Conlan, the evidence suggested the application and appeal processes themselves were behind the low acceptance rate here.

“Particularly where the Tribunal is concerned there are reasons to believe that there is a ’culture of disbelief’ that informs the approach that some Tribunal members take.

“What disturbs me about our findings is the fact that many people who appear to have legitimate claims appear not to be receiving a fair examination of their claim and as a result are being denied protection.”