IHREC joins European network call for an urgent EU-wide response to refugee crisis

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has welcomed the Government’s announcement that Ireland remains committed to accepting up to 4,000 people under resettlement and relocation programmes for those forced to leave their homes because of war and conflict.

The Commission welcomes the establishment of a cross-departmental taskforce chaired by the Department of Justice and Equality to coordinate the logistical and operational aspects of the resettlement programme, as well as proposed consultations with local communities, non-governmental organisations and service providers.

 Chief Commissioner Emily Logan saidthat it was important to ensure that reception conditions are of a standard that will facilitate longer term integration and recovery for the individuals involved.

 Ms Logan said: “It is important that the appropriate resources and skills of agencies and departments are harnessed to put in place standards that will protect the dignity of refugees, and facilitate the long term integration and recovery of individuals, many of whom will be traumatised by the experience of recent months.”

 The Commission calls on the Minister for Justice and Equality, particularly in the context of the extraordinary meeting of the EU Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, to work closely together with other EU member states in improving safe and legal channels to Europe which will prevent loss of life and deny profit to those involved in the trafficking of human beings.

 The EU has a critical role to play in addressing these challenges. The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), representing human rights commissions around Europe, has collectively called on all EU governments to take urgent action before more lives are lost. Stressing the right to seek asylum enshrined in international human rights treaties, ENNHRI has called for action by governments to uphold their human rights obligations when it comes to rescue operations, emergency relocation, preventing loss of life and improving support for people during the process of seeking asylum.

 Ms Logan continued: “Fundamental reforms in asylum law and policy are long overdue in Ireland and the Commission welcomes Minister Fitzgerald’s statement that it is an urgent priority for Government to bring forward the International Protection Bill.

 “The refugee programme now being established by the Government offers an opportunity to fast-track all those already in direct provision for over 5 years, as recommended in the Working Group Report on Direct Provision.”

 “The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has previously proposed reforms to the system for those seeking protection in Ireland and the plight of those who have already spent lengthy periods of time in Direct Provision accommodation.

 “The granting of international protection is a fundamental part of ensuring a humane system that complies with human rights protections for people who are subject to persecution or other serious harms in their countries of origin. It is important that the International Protection Bill promised by the Government is enacted at the earliest opportunity.”

 In light of the current humanitarian crisis, the Commission also recommends that the Government supports fundamental reforms to the EU Dublin Regulation which identifies the state of arrival as responsible for determining asylum and family reunification.

 The Commission’s Legislative Recommendations on the human rights and equality implications of General Scheme of the International Protection Bill 2015 are available here:


The Commission’s Policy Statement on the System of Direct Provision in Ireland published in December 2014 available here: http://www.ihrec.ie/download/pdf/ihrec_policy_statement_on_direct_provision_10dec14.pdf.


For further information please contact Niamh Connolly/Fidelma Joyce on IHREC 01 8589601/ 087 4399022. Twitter: follow us @_ihrec

 Notes to Editors

1. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) was established by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. The Commission has a statutory remit to protect and promote human rights and equality in the State, to promote a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding and to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of human rights and equality. The IHREC is tasked with reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of law, policy and practice relating to the protection of human rights and equality and with making recommendations to Government on measures to strengthen, protect and uphold human rights and equality accordingly.

2. The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) is made up of over 40 human rights institutions from all over Europe. Its current Chair is the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

3. The ‘Dublin II Regulation’ (343/2003) establishes the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-Country national or a stateless person. It obliges refugees to apply for asylum in the country where they first arrive and allows a state to return a refugee applicant to another EU country with which they have a connection.