People refused entry to Ireland denied human rights, report says

Nasc claims access to legal aid, medical treatment and interpreters being withheld

Dublin Airport: Twenty eight thousand people were refused entry to Ireland between 2008 and 2016, according to the Irish Immigrant Support Centre’s  report. Photograph: Kate Geraghty

Dublin Airport: Twenty eight thousand people were refused entry to Ireland between 2008 and 2016, according to the Irish Immigrant Support Centre’s report. Photograph: Kate Geraghty

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People refused immigration entry to Ireland who are then held in prisons are being denied basic rights including legal aid, medical treatment and interpreters, a new report has warned.

Twenty eight thousand people were refused entry between 2008 and 2016, according to the Nasc’s (Irish Immigrant Support Centre) Immigration Detention and Border Control in Ireland report.

Nearly one-third came from Brazil, China, South Africa, Nigeria and Albania, while large numbers from Pakistan, the United States, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Bolivia have also been refused.

The report comes after 24-year-old Paloma Aparezida Silva-Carvalho from Brazil was detained last year at Dublin Airport and later held in the Dóchas women’s prison in Mountjoy after she came to visit friends.

Ireland must ensure it is not at risk of violating its international obligations of non-refoulement in returning people to their place of origin

Currently, Ireland does not have a dedicated facility for holding people refused entry. Consequently, they are held in prisons, or Garda stations. A new centre is due to open in July 2018 in Dublin Airport.

The number of people held for immigration offences in Ireland is relatively low compared to international numbers, but Nasc complains about a lack of transparency and accountability.

Ireland has faced “significant international criticism” for its treatment of immigration detainees, says the report, adding that people should not be held incommunicado.

Reasons for refusal

Detainees should have access to lawyers and medical attention and be able to receive information on rights and the reasons for refusal – which is still not enshrined in Irish law.

Very little has changed since a 2005 report, Nasc complained, saying that there have been no significant legislative improvements to ensure access to justice for those refused entry.

Immigration decisions are not transparent, while Nasc raises concerns about the level of training received by immigration officers in the report due to be published on Tuesday.

Research shows that detainees are often left without their mobile phones, access to a solicitor, or information about asylum rules, or with enough access to interpreters “to understand fully what was happening to them”.

“Ireland must ensure it is not at risk of violating its international obligations of non-refoulement in returning people to their place of origin,” said Nasc chief executive Fiona Finn.

Basic human rights must be met, the report says. Detention should only be used as an “absolute last resort” in immigration cases. The new Dublin Airport centre must not be “in any way penal or punitive”.

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