The Minister for Integration’s failure to provide “material reception conditions” to an Afghan asylum seeker left homeless when he arrived in this State 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.
The applicant, a young single male, was entitled to “material reception conditions” under the 2018 Regulations, said the judge.
What was provided by the Minister “fell far short of what is required”, particularly in terms of the lack of accommodation and shelter, the provision of food and basic hygiene, he said.
‘One of many’
The judge was asked to make the declarations in a case brought by a young single male who applied for international protection in the State. He noted the Afghan’s case is “but one of many” from single males seeking international protection in Ireland.
This applicant claims he is a minor, aged 17, but was treated as an adult in the system and, the judge said, this matter remains under review.
The male, who says his father was killed by the Taliban last autumn, was left homeless upon arrival in this state on February 7th until he received accommodation on February 28th.
He claimed he was given a €28 Dunnes Stores voucher and had no food and had to resort to begging. He said he slept in different locations around Dublin’s city centre, felt constantly scared and feared attack.
The male’s lawyers, Colm O’Dwyer SC, instructed by the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, noted there were many other cases like his 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 from the war in Ukraine, the court heard.
All women, children and family applicants seeking international protection were accommodated since Dublin’s 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.
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.
Every possible effort
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. Giving a €28 Dunnes Stores and the addresses of private charities “does not come close to what is required”, he added.
Article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights states that “human dignity is inviable” and must be respected and protected, he noted.
The judge granted two declarations and scheduled 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.