High Court reporters
An Afghan asylum seeker who was left homeless and had to resort to begging when he arrived in Ireland has won a key High Court legal challenge.
The failure of the Minister for Integration to provide “material reception conditions” to the Afghan asylum seeker is unlawful, the High Court has declared.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan concluded that the Minister is in breach of his obligations under the European Union (Reception Conditions) Regulations of 2018 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
He also declared that the failure to provide the reception conditions breached the applicant’s rights under Article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
Several similar cases are in the pipeline.
The applicant – a single, young male – is entitled to “material reception conditions” under the 2018 Regulations, the judge said.
What was provided by the Minister “fell far short of what is required”, particularly in terms of the lack of accommodation/ shelter, the provision of food and basic hygiene, he added.
The judge was asked to make the declarations in a case brought by the Afghan male, who has applied for international protection in the State. He noted the applicant's case is “but one of many” from single males seeking international protection in Ireland.
The applicant claims he is a minor, aged 17, but was treated as an adult in the system and this matter remains under review, the judge said.
The male, who claims his father was killed by the Taliban last autumn, was left homeless upon arrival in the State on February 7th until he received accommodation on February 28th.
He claimed he was given a €28 Dunnes Stores voucher, had no food and had to resort to begging. He said he slept in different locations around Dublin city centre, felt constantly scared and feared attack.
His lawyers, Colm O’Dwyers SC, instructed by the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, noted there are many similar cases, so there was a benefit to continuing to pursue declarations regarding the Minister’s obligations, even though the applicant received accommodation before the hearing.
Lawyers for the State “unambiguously” accepted the Minister’s legal requirement to accommodate the protection applicants and provided accommodation at the “first possible opportunity”.
The court was told there was no question of a failure or refusal to act, but the State was dealing with a 600 per cent increase in international protection applications since the start of 2021. The accommodation problems have been compounded by those fleeing the war in Ukraine, the court heard.
All women, children and family applicants seeking international protection were accommodated since the Citywest processing centre ceased taking new arrivals on January 19th, the State said.
Adult males have been receiving accommodation in chronological order from the date of their arrival, counsel for the State added.
In his ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Meenan said the Minister admitted that prior to February 28th, he did not afford to the applicant “material reception conditions”, which included “accommodation/housing” to which he is entitled under the 2018 Regulations.
The Minister outlined that every possible effort has been made to secure more accommodation for international protection applicants.
The judge said the Minister’s efforts to secure accommodation does not absolve him of his duties under the 2018 Regulations, adding that giving a €28 Dunnes Stores and the addresses of private charities "does not come close to what is required".
Article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights states that human dignity is inviolable and must be respected and protected, the judge noted, granting two declarations and scheduling the case for mention next month to deal with any further orders and costs.
The action was against the Minister, Ireland, the Attorney General and the Child and Family Agency.