Afghan asylum seeker who claims he is a minor brings court case over being left homeless
Posted on 27th February 2023 at 22:26
The male says he did not have documentation to prove he is 17 when he applied for international protection this month
An Afghan male who claims he is a minor is one of two further asylum seekers to take High Court actions over being left homeless since arriving in Ireland.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan was told on Monday that there was a dispute about whether this male was a minor.
Counsel for the Child and Family Agency (CFA), Leonora Frawley, said she had received confirmation that the applicant’s documents were genuine and he would thus be prioritised for services.
The male, who cannot be identified because he is an asylum seeker, says he did not have documentation to prove he is 17 when he applied for international protection in this State on February 8th. In a sworn statement the Afghan says social workers who interviewed him on behalf of the International Protection Office (IPO) told him they believed he was an adult. His brother has since sent him copies of his identity card and birth certificate, he says.
The male, who says his father was killed by the Taliban last autumn, claims he was told there was no accommodation available and was given a €28 Dunnes Stores voucher to buy bedding. He alleges he has been sleeping rough since February 8th, and moving to different locations around Dublin’s city centre. He fears he will be attacked and says a drunk man threatened him with a knife.
Another Afghan, who also applied for international protection on February 8th, has brought proceedings alleging he is in a similar situation. The 24-year-old accountant, who says he worked in construction while studying economics, said Taliban members attacked his home in July 2021.
At the High Court on Monday, David Conlan Smyth SC, for Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman, said it is anticipated that both applicants will receive offers of accommodation by the middle of this week. He said the Minister was aware of his EU and domestic law obligations to provide reception accommodation to asylum seekers. There is a “system in place” to deal with single male applicants in chronological order from their date of arrival. There were certain exceptions made for applicants who were particularly vulnerable, he added.
The Minister was “doing the best he can” and there was “not a question here in any sense of the Minister simply disregarding his obligations”.
Mr Conlan Smyth reiterated that the State would argue “very forcefully” that it was not appropriate to make mandatory orders forcing the Minister to immediately house the applicants.
Previously, in another similar action that was resolved earlier this month, Mr Conlan Smyth told the court that all women, children and family applicants seeking international protection have been accommodated since the Citywest processing centre ceased taking new arrivals on January 19th.
For the applicants, Colm O’Dwyer SC, instructed by the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, said there were about 90 Irish Refugee Council clients who were in a similar position and could potentially bring a court action.
He said the injunctions would not be necessary if his clients were housed before the hearing of the injunction applications. However, he still felt it would be beneficial if the court would make declarations regarding the legal position.
Mr Justice Meenan said he did not think the Minister was disputing the legal rights of the applicants. He asked the Minister to inform him on Friday what accommodation had been sourced, particularly in relation to the male who might be a minor.
It would be helpful, he added, if the State parties could set out on affidavit that they recognise the duty to provide immediate accommodation to people seeking international protection, and to explain how the system for dealing with single adult male asylum seekers abides by the State’s legal obligations.
He adjourned the case until Friday.
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