Muslim Community Lobby Ireland is an independent organization established 1st May 2007. Its motto is TO USE THE VOTE RIGHTLY AND TO RAISE THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AWARNESS WITH THEIR RIGHTS AND TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER EXISTING GROUPS. لترشيد استعمال الصوت الانتخابي ولتوعية وتعريف المسلمين بحقوقهم في ايرلندا وان يعيشوا بتفهم للواقع وللجماعات الاخرى الموجودة على الساحة

Monday, February 4, 2008

New Immigration Bill has Serious Flaws

Press Release

29th January 2008

New Immigration Bill has Serious Flaws

Changes Needed to Ensure Fairness and Due Process

“The Immigration Residence and Protection Bill introduced today by Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan has serious flaws,” said the Director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland , Siobhán O’Donoghue. “In Ireland we value fairness, transparency and due process. The Immigration Bill in its current form seriously lacks these basic principles and major changes in the Bill are needed to get this right now in order to meet everyone’s interests.”

Ms. O’Donoghue continued, “For example, I think the Irish public would be shocked to learn the unchecked powers and discretion the Bill gives the Minister and the Gardaí. We know from our history the dangers of giving too much power or discretion to any one person or group. According to the Bill the Minister has the power to summarily deport a person from Ireland without any right to appeal and that is shocking.”

“The Bill must include the establishment of an independent appeals body for all immigration and asylum-related applications. We know that mistakes can happen. For example a victim of trafficking or exploitation could be deported in error. I don’t think that is the legacy Ireland wishes to foster.”

“Something else that the Irish value and honour deeply is the family. The family is the cornerstone of Irish life. Those who come to live, work and pay taxes in Ireland deserve the same right to live a normal and dignified life by having their families with them. Keeping families separated benefits no-one. What is gained by keeping a man from Bangladesh who has been living and working in Ireland for the past four years separated from his wife and daughter, whom he has only seen in pictures? By not providing a clear right to family reunion we are creating division, isolation and unnecessary suffering. If we are serious about integration then we need to start by welcoming families and removing the barriers to family reunion.”

“The Bill also lacks adequate protections for the most vulnerable, such as those who have become undocumented through workplace exploitation and those who are victims of trafficking. For example people who are trafficked and exploited deserve at a minimum a six month permission to remain to get themselves sorted and back into the system.”

“The thinking behind this bill was to set out fair and transparent rules and procedures around all aspects of immigration law. This Bill fails to do that.”


Delphine O'Keeffe
Information & Communications

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
55 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1
( 01 889 7570 / Fax 01 889 7579

January 29th 2008


Irish Refugee Council warns that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill does not ensure a fair hearing for people in danger

The Irish Refugee Council today welcomed the Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan’s commitment to an Independent Appeals Tribunal for asylum and other forms of protection. Robin Hanan Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Refugee Council said, ‘We are pleased that the Minister has assured us that an Independent Tribunal will be set up. However this commitment is not reflected in the Bill. We feel that a golden opportunity has been lost to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people in deep distress who come to this country looking for protection. It is widely recognised that the current asylum appeals process is a scandal. The recent Nyembo case, which was settled out of court by the Government, indicates that for many asylum seekers is it impossible to get a fair hearing.’

The Minister has missed an important chance to overhaul a deeply flawed system for people seeking protection in this country. The ‘culture of disbelief’ which exists at the moment means the application and appeals system is stacked against applicants. This needs to be replaced by a more balanced assessment of the dangers which they might face. Protections for applicants have not been improved in the current Bill.

Maureen Kirkpatrick IRC Legal Officer said, ‘Every day in the course of my work I meet asylum seekers who due to no fault of their own have been unable to have the facts surrounding their application properly considered. This has grave implications for each asylum seeker and I had hoped that the Minister would put in place a much better system with safeguards.’

While welcoming the fact that the Minister has as promised included new provisions on trafficking, Jyothi Kanics IRC Separated Children’s officer said that ‘We welcome the inclusion of the new provision related to protection for suspected victims of trafficking who are non-EU nationals. However, the new measures to establish a ‘recovery and reflection period’ ( of 45 days) as well as temporary residency (of 6 months) do not go far enough in providing stability and protection. These measures are only minimum standards and, since they are dependant on the victim’s ability and willingness to co-operate with investigation and prosecution efforts, they do not reflect good practice.

'Remember that those who have been trafficked are victims of criminal acts and deserve support and compensation. They need adequate time to recover and to make decisions regarding their future options. We strongly advocate a longer reflection and recovery period of 6 months – irrespective of whether a suspected victim agrees to cooperate with the authorities. This is necessary since many trafficked persons are recovering from significant trauma, while others fear retaliation.’

Robin Hanan said ’ We are asking the Minister to create an asylum system that matches best international standards and ends the secrecy in the process by making key changes to the IRP Bill which would:

Spell out clearly the rights of a person applying for asylum to a fair hearing with an independent and open appeal
Name an absolute rule that no one can be sent back to a place where they face danger or persecution in line with international law
Ensure appropriate protections for the most vulnerable, including children and victims of torture

For further info rmation please contact Roisin Boyd
Irish Refugee Council
88 Capel Street, Dublin 1Phone: +353-1-8730042

Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill requires significant amendment to achieve a fair system: ICI

Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) chief executive Denise Charlton has warned that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, published today by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, will require significant amendment if it is to achieve the Government’s stated aim of establishing fair and transparent immigration system.

Ms Charlton said reform of Ireland ’s immigration laws was long overdue.

“At first glance, there is little evidence that the problems besetting the system now will be addressed – inordinate delays in decision-making, inconsistent decisions, lack of clarity and a reliance on the courts to sort out the mess, with resulting cost implications for taxpayers.

“The fact that the Government has reneged on its commitment in the Programme for Government to establish an independent appeals tribunal for immigration decisions means its reliance on the courts will undoubtedly continue.

“We hope to work with the Government and opposition parties to help ensure the legislation establishes a system that is fair and transparent, which will benefit not only migrants but Ireland itself.

“Immigration and integration are among the biggest issues facing Ireland today and we don’t want this to be an opportunity lost by the Government to establish a workable, fair and forward-looking immigration system.”

Ms Charlton said the ICI would be closely examining the Bill and hope to provide a comprehensive analysis to the Government.

“Another of our concerns is that, in relation to reunification of families separated by migration – consistently one of the most common issues raised with us by migrants - this legislation does not actually say who is able to come to Ireland and what criteria they need to meet to enter the country,” Ms Charlton said.

“The European Commission has recognised family reunification is one of the major types of migration in the European Union at the moment and Ireland ’s experience would be no different.

“Yet, if this Bill is passed as it is, Ireland will be the only country in the European Union that does not have primary legislation covering this type of migration. That doesn’t make sense.

“It particularly doesn’t make sense at a time when the Government says integration is one of its priority policy areas.

“Irish people have a strong sense of family and would know how difficult it would be for a person to feel part of a community when someone they love is not allowed to be with them, or even to visit, in many cases.”

Ms Charlton welcomed the fact that the Bill included provisions for victims of trafficking.

“We are pleased that the Government has included provisions for victims of trafficking,” Ms Charlton said. “We will be looking at this section of the Bill in coming days and hope to work with the Government to ensure Ireland adopts best practice in terms of protection and access to services from this particular group of very vulnerable people.”

ICI chief executive Denise Charlton is available for interview today.

Ruth Evans
Information Management and
Communications Officer
Immigrant Council of Ireland
Ph: 01 645 8049
Fax: 01 645 8059

press release. For immediate release. 29 January 2008

FLAC reaction to Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2008

In its first reaction to the Immigration Residence & Protection Bill which was published today, FLAC, the non-governmental organisation campaigning for equal access to justice, has raised concerns about the protection of the rights of immigrants to access fair and transparent procedures.

“While the Minister quite naturally wants to set up a fast, efficient immigration system, our concern is that a fair balance must be maintained between efficiency and rights” according to FLAC’s director general Noeline Blackwell.

Ms. Blackwell said that FLAC is particularly concerned that unlike the asylum system, the proposed immigration system does not include any independent appeals procedure. “An independent appeal is one of the safeguards needed in any administrative procedure which takes place within a single department, without any oversight or scrutiny from any other source” according to her. "There is no provision for an immigration appeals authority at all" she said.

A further concern for the organisation is the increased restrictions placed on access to the courts. According to Ms. Blackwell, existing legislation requires immigrants and those seeking protection to meet a higher standard than is needed for most other cases which come before the courts. This Bill introduces further restrictions on the right of access to the court, and can also penalise an applicant by awarding costs against the lawyer. “An explanatory memorandum to the Bill states that this could happen, as an example, where a judge considers that a case is ‘frivolous’. However, a lawyer cannot predict what a judge will think of a case. The danger is that lawyers will be discouraged by the sheer weight of obstacles that impede access to the courts for immigrants.”


Noeline Blackwell is available for comment at: 01-8745690

Noeline Blackwell
Director General
FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres Ltd.)
13 Lr Dorset Street, Dublin 1
Tel: 01-874 5690
Fax: 01-874 5320

PRESS RELEASE 29.01.2008

Integrating Ireland’s responds to the publication of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill: A Landmark Opportunity Missed

Integrating Ireland today (29.01.08) welcomed the publication of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. Commenting on the publication of the Bill, Aki Stavrou , Director of Integrating Ireland said:

“Although the Minister states that this is a landmark piece of legislation, we feel it is a landmark for the missed opportunity to address the fundamental flaws in our immigration and protection system. While we welcome the adoption of a single procedure for people seeking protection, we are extremely concerned that the provisions fall far short of fulfilling Ireland ’s obligations under international human rights law to ensure that a person seeking protection does not face a risk of return to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
In response to comments made by the Minister today, Mr Stavrou also highlighted that:
“It is extremely disappointing that in launching the Bill the Minister has chosen a well worn path in promoting a culture of disbelief, where every asylum seeker is believed to be abusing the system. It is also regrettable that the Minister thinks it is necessary to question the fundamental principle of access to justice and the importance of maintaining full judicial oversight of decisions that directly affect Ireland ’s fulfilment of its international legal obligations.
He added that:

“Integrating Ireland along with numerous organisations have previously highlighted that provisions in the Bill fall well short of international standards and may place Ireland in breach of our obligations under international refugee and human rights law. It is disappointing that these shortcomings have not been addressed in the Bill. Integrating Ireland therefore looks forward to working with the Government to tackle these issues.”

Integrating Ireland - The Immigrant Network
17 Lower Camden Street
Dublin 2
00 353 1 475 9473 ext. 205