Groups to higlight "shambolic" new asylum application procedure

Groups representing refugees and asylum seekers have warned that a new 60-page application questionnaire has has “created chaos” for people in Direct Provision.

Groups to higlight "shambolic" new asylum application procedure

Protestors march against Direct Provision in Dublin, 12-11-2016. Image: Sam Boal / RollingNews

Group’s representing asylum seekers in Ireland will hold a vigil outside Leinster House this evening in protest at Ireland’s new asylum application procedure.

Representatives have said a “complicated” new 60-page asylum application form has “created chaos” for thousands of people living in Direct Provision in Ireland.

The new “single application” questionnaire form has been issued to approximately 3,000 people in accordance with new asylum application legislation - which came into effect at the end of last year.

The questionnaire advises applicants to get legal advice and warns that it should be returned “if possible no later than 20 working days from the date of the covering letter.”

Groups representing asylum applicants said the procedure – which was intended to increase the efficiency of Ireland’s asylum process – has been a “shambolic disaster.”

They said applicants have struggled to procure legal advice in time from the “swamped” Refugee Legal Service.

Other problems including a lack of clarity about the deadline, poor translations of the form and the difficulty associated with retrieving certain documentation has created significant worry for applicants according to the groups.

Department of Justice

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said the form clearly states that applicants should return the form within 20 working days “if possible.”

He said there is "no suggestion" that failing to meet the deadline would result in applications being disregarded or otherwise disadvantaged. 

“There is also specific provision in the form for supplementary information to be provided subsequently," he said.

“It is of course in the interests of everyone, not least applicants themselves, that all supporting information is provided in a timely fashion in order to aid the consideration of their cases in as efficient a manner as possible.” 

International Protection Act

The questionnaire was introduced as part of the new International Protection Act, which came into force at the start of the year.

The act was supposed to increase the efficiency of Ireland's asylum process, however the groups have voiced fears that it will do so through "accelerated deportations, unmonitored refusals, and defective, erratic assessment processes."

They claimed the new act appears “designed to undermine the internationally recognised right to seek asylum.”

They will make a special Oireachtas presentation this evening to illustrate the impact of the legislation on people living in Direct Provision.

Lucky Khambule from the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) said the isolation many people in Direct Provision are facing is allowing the new system to be rolled out with “disregard for the rights of those seeking asylum to transparent rights-based process.”

“Direct Provision is often called the Magdalene Laundries of our time,” she said. “This state-sanctioned institutional abuse will undoubtedly be the subject of inquiry in years to come.”

Refugee and Migrant Solidarity Ireland (RAMSI) will hold a vigil outside Leinster House from 5:30pm this evening as the presentation is taking place inside.