Human Rights and Equality Commission Appears before Court of Appeal in Family Reunification Cases

Commission Appears as Amicus Curiae 

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has today appeared before the Court of Appeal as amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) in two cases involving family reunification for naturalised refugees.

The test cases ‘MAM’ and ‘KN’, which are being heard jointly, involve significant human rights issues. In both, the Minister for Justice and Equality refused applications for family reunification from individuals who had been granted refugee status under the Refugee Act 1996 and subsequently naturalised as Irish citizens, saying that they were no longer entitled to “refugee” family reunification since becoming Irish citizens.

The Minister refused the individual at the centre of the ‘MAM’ case family reunification in respect of her husband, and the individual at the centre of the ‘KN’ case in respect of her adult daughter and two grand-daughters.

Acting as amicus curiae, the Commission sought to assist the Court of Appeal with regards to the right to family reunification, the situation of naturalised refugees, and international human rights law.

The Commission’s legal submissions (published today) to the Court of Appeal focus on two issues: First, whether the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) or the Irish Constitution confer a right to family reunification on refugees and if so, second, what effect that right would have on the interpretation of Ireland’s Refugee Act 1996.

The Commission’s submissions conclude that Article 8 of the ECHR, which protects private and family life, does guarantee a right to family reunification to refugees whether or not they have acquired Irish citizenship. The Commission found it possible to identify MAM and KN’s right to the mutual care, society and protection of their families guaranteed by Article 40.3 and Article 41 of the Constitution.

The Commission advised the Court of its view that the Minister for Justice and Equality’s interpretation of the Refugee Act 1996 could be contrary to Article 40.1, 40.3 and Article 41 of the Constitution, which focus on fundamental rights and the rights of families.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“These two cases before the Court of Appeal raise significant questions on the right of naturalised refugees to family reunification. In our submissions to the Court of Appeal, the Commission has focused on the State’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Constitution of Ireland in relation to how these family’s requests to reunification are treated by the State.”

“The two families at the centre of these cases are seeking reunification with immediate family members and, as these cases speak directly to the State’s obligations under Irish and international law, the Commission as Ireland’s National Human Rights Institution is exercising our statutory powers and independent status to provide an experience-based international human rights perspective.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

The Commission’s written submissions to the Court of Appeal in the proceedings MAM v. The Minister for Justice and Equality and KN and Ors v. The Minister for Justice and Equality are available at the following link:

MAM v Minister for Justice and Equality

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

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