Pakistani man loses appeal over right to choose what country he will claim asylum in

A Pakistani man who sought asylum in Ireland after coming here from the UK has lost his appeal alleging he has a right to choose what country he will claim asylum in, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

More than 100 High Court cases were awaiting the outcome of this appeal, the Court of Appeal noted.

In a unanimous judgment today, the three-judge court ruled the man had made out no arguable case for a right under Article 31 of the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees to choose the country where he will apply for asylum.

It also rejected his claim that, insofar as provisions of a 2013 EU Regulation known as the Dublin III Regulation requires asylum seekers to seek asylum in the first EU member state where they arrive, those provisions are invalid.

Giving the appeal court's judgment, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, with whom Ms Justice Mary Irvine and Ms Justice Máire Whelan agreed, said it could not plausibly be argued the Dublin II Regulation was invalid on the basis alleged.

The case arose after the man applied for asylum here in April 2015. From an information request sent to the UK, it transpired his fingerprints were on the records of the UK authorities and he had lived in the UK for about two years between 2011 and 2013 but had not sought asylum there.

He claimed an incident occurred in Pakistan in October 2013 which formed the basis of his asylum application, that he returned to the UK in November 2013 and came here in April 2015.

After the UK agreed, under the Dublin III Regulation, to handle his request, his appeal against that decision was ultimately rejected by the International Protection Tribunal in April 2017.

After the High Court rejected his challenge to the Tribunal's decision, he appealed to the COA.

In its judgment on Monday, Mr Justice Hogan said, while Article 31 of the Geneva Convention confers some element of choice on those seeking refugee status as to the country where they will apply for such status, that choice is largely confined to applicants en route to a particular destination and whose choice of country of refuge is not nullified simply because they did not make an application in another country where they were simply stopping over or transiting.

Article 31 does not give refugee applicants an "open-ended choice" of the kind apparently claimed by the man in this case, he said.

In any event, within the EU context, Article 31 was supplemented and developed by the agreement reflected in the Dublin III Regulation, which provided for a system of jurisdiction allocation between member states designed to avoid "forum shopping" and potentially abusive applications in many states, he said.

It cannot be said that a system expressly authorised by the EU Treaties could in itself be unlawful on grounds it is contrary to an international treaty such as the Geneva Convention which, in itself, was not part of the law of the EU, he added.



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