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Woman claims her privacy rights as human trafficking victim have been breached as a result of years spent in direct provision system


Dublin's Four Courts

Dublin's Four Courts

Dublin's Four Courts

A WOMAN claims her privacy rights as a victim of human trafficking have been breached as a result of spending years in Ireland's direct provision system for asylum seekers.

The woman has initiated a High Court challenge to the system.

The woman claims the conditions under which she and her Irish born child have lived in direct provision for more than five years give rise to "distress, anguish, denial of human dignity and significant anxiety".

She claims she has been the victim of trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse and exploitation.

The woman and her child are seeking, along with a separate case by another woman and her two children, leave to challenge the State's "manifest and ongoing" failure to establish an independent Refugee Advisory Board.

In both cases, the applicants also contend their rights to privacy under the Irish Constitution have been breached by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) rules governing residency in direct provision, a system set up in 2000 as a temporary measure to house asylum seekers.

Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh, who in a previous case declared aspects of the RIA rules  were unlawful, has "parked" the part of the case relating to privacy pending the adoption of revised house rules for direct provision residents.

The issue of revised rules is being "actively" dealt with by the Working Group on Direct Provision set up by the Minister for Justice and adoption of revised rules is anticipated "in very short order",  Nuala Butler SC, for the Minister and State parties, said.

The revision of the rules was initiated after the judge declared last year, in the case of CA and TA,  that aspects of the RIA rules, including rules permitting unannounced inspections of residents' rooms, amounted to unlawful breach of the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the judge also found insufficient evidence had been called in that case to support other claims their rights under the Constitution and ECHR had been violated due to the duration and conditions of their stay in direct provision.

When dealing with directions for the hearing of the two new separate applications for leave for judicial review, the judge refused an application by Saul Woolfson, for the applicants, for a "telescoped" hearing of both cases.

The judge directed there should instead be a hearing, in the case of the woman who claims she is a victim of trafficking,  to decide whether leave should be granted on the specific issue of the failure to establish a Refugee Advisory Board (RAB).  

The State opposes that application.

In the claims concerning the RAB, the applicants allege that, under Section 7 of the 1996 Refugee Act, the Oireachtas clearly envisaged a permanent and independent staturoy, advisory, monitoring, reporting and review body - a Refugee Advisory Board - woud be set up.

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