Judgment on the Right to Family Reunification issued by the Court of Appeal

Commission Exercised Amicus Curiae Role in Case

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is examining a judgment delivered today by the Court of Appeal in two joined family reunification cases. The Commission has acted as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the cases.

In its judgment, delivered by Ms. Justice Baker, the Court found that the declarations of refugee status of the two people at the centre of the cases had been revoked by operation of law once they acquired Irish citizenship and that, as such, they could not succeed in their applications for family reunification.

In the two test cases ‘MAM’ and ‘KN’ heard jointly, the Minister for Justice and Equality had refused applications for family reunification from individuals who had been granted refugee status under the Refugee Act 1996 and subsequently naturalized as Irish citizens. They were refused family reunification rights on that basis that by becoming Irish citizens they were no longer entitled to “refugee” family reunification.

The Minister had 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.

In November 2018, 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 legal submissions presented by the Commission to the Court of Appeal focused on two issues: First, whether the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) confers a right to family reunification on refugees and if so, what effect that would have on interpretation of the Refugee Act 1996; and second, whether Constitutional rights are also engaged and what the interpretive effect of such a finding in this regard would be.

The Commission advised 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 had further 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:

“While examining this ruling from the Court of Appeal the Commission will continue to emphasise the need for the State to keep under review its approach to family reunification following significant changes made under the International Protection Act of 2015.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

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:

https://www.ihrec.ie/documents/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.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

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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