Sunday 25 September 2016

Woman who lashed out at gardai as she was escorted on to plane loses legal challenge to deportation

Saurya Cherfi

Published 12/08/2016 | 14:38

The High Court
The High Court

A Nigerian woman, who was brought to jail after she lashed out at gardaí in what was described as a ploy to avoid her imminent deportation, has lost a legal challenge into the legality of her detention.

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Mr Justice Bernard Barton said the woman, who is a failed asylum seeker and cannot be identified, claimed her arrest by the Garda National Immigration Bureau to be deported had been illegal and therefore, her detention in prison was unlawful.  She had issued proceedings under Article 40 of the Constitution. 

Judge Barton said the woman’s daughter, who has always lived in Ireland and was due to go back to Nigeria with her, has been placed into the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, on foot of a court order, while the mother is being detained. 

Members of the GNIB had arrested the woman on foot of a deportation order issued against her almost 10 years ago.  The State had argued the daughter had not been arrested and had been in the care of her mother at all times until the woman was brought to prison.  

Judge Barton said the gardaí had been concerned for the health and welfare of the daughter as the mother being in jail, she would not be in her care.  They had contacted the agency in accordance with the law and the child had been handed over to a social worker.  Through her mother, the daughter had also initiated proceedings under Article 40 of the Constitution.  She claimed that although she had not been arrested by the GNIB members, she had needed to follow her mother to the Airport and had therefore been detained.   

The woman claimed that four officers came to her place of residence to give effect to the deportation order and entered her house with the help of a security guard who had a key. 

She had been shocked to see the gardaí in her house but had cooperated with them and arrangements had been made to bring her and her daughter, who was in her bedroom, to the airport. 

The woman claimed that only the arresting officer had the right to enter her house and the presence of the three other members rendered her arrest illegal. 

The State had argued that the three other officers were present to assist, if needed, the arresting garda.  It denied the arrest had been unlawful. 

Judge Barton said the woman had cooperated until minutes before she was due to board the plane.  She had then refused to get on the flight and had started shouting and screaming and had lashed out at gardaí with her hands and feet before lying down on the floor. 

The gardaí told the court the woman was informed that she would not be going on the plane but would be detained in prison pending the deportation proceedings, while her daughter would be placed into care. 

Judge Barton found the arrest of the mother at her home was lawful and her actions at the airport had led to her incarceration.  He also found that the daughter had been in her mother’s care at all time until she was brought to prison. 

“It was the mother’s behaviour which frustrated her and her daughter’s lawful deportation from the State.  I find her arrest and detention at the prison is in accordance with the law,” Judge Barton said. 

“It is her arrest and detention which had the effect of separating her from her daughter and in my view, the child’s placement in care is also lawful. It is a legitimate aim of the State to maintain its own borders and operate a regular system of control,” the judge said.”

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