Tuesday 16 October 2018

High Court judge quashes refusal by Minister to stop deportation order against Algerian man

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Aodhan O'Faolain

A High Court judge has quashed a refusal by the Minister for Justice to revoke a deportation order against an Algerian who was said to have links to Islamic terrorism and feared torture if returned to his home country.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys found that the Minister’s decision not to revoke the deportation of the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was in breach of fair procedures. He said that the Minister's decision was significantly flawed because of a failure to apply a specific legal test with regard to evidence on which the refusal was based.

Judge Humphreys adjourned the matter until September when he will hear submissions on whether or not the matter should again be remitted to the Minister in full or in part. The judgment was the third occasion where the courts have ruled in favour of the man in respect of challenges brought against the refusal to revoke the order.

The Supreme Court in July 2017 quashed the Minister's first refusal to revoke the deportation order issued in late 2016 and also remitted the man's case to the Minister for further reconsideration.

The Supreme Court's ruling followed an appeal against an earlier High Court decision that the Minister's belief was lawful  on the basis there were no substantial grounds of a real risk of ill-treatment if the man was deported.

Last December Judge Humphreys quashed the second refusal by the Minister to revoke the deportation order due to a failure to inform the man's lawyers that certain information about Algeria was relied upon by the Minister when considering the application to revoke. Judge Humphreys had sent the matter back for fresh consideration.

Then in February, after the case has been reconsidered, the Minister again refused to revoke the deportation order.  It led to new legal argument on a breach of fair procedures and that the Minister’s decision was irrational in having failed to apply the correct legal test.

Lawyers for the State had submitted there had been significant improvements with regard to the protection of human rights in Algeria especially since 2016.

In finding that there had been a breach of fair procedures, Judge Humphreys said his reasons last December for quashing the Minister’s failure to revoke the order and sending it back, had either been "misunderstood" or "simply ignored."

"If I may be permitted to borrow from Oscar Wilde, to lose one application may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose a second on the same grounds looks like carelessness", the Judge said.

It had been alleged the man, who has been in custody since 2016, was convicted of terrorism offences in Algeria and France and had previously used multiple identities. He had been jailed in Ireland for attempting to travel on a false passport,

The Minister issued a deportation order against the man in 2016 after gardaí informed the Department of Justice they were seriously concerned about his activities and those of his associates which, gardaí believed, were “contrary to the State’s security”.

Aged in his 50s, the man has lived in Ireland for several years and denies being involved in terrorism or in groups including Al-Qaeda.  He claims he is at risk of being tortured and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment due to his political views.

He claimed that during the 1990s he was convicted of several offences in Algeria and received three life sentences and two death sentences. These offences had included forming an armed terrorist group intending to spread murder, sabotage, possession of prohibited war weapons assassination and theft intending to harm the security of his home country.

He was jailed for eight years following his arrest in France in 2002 after he was found guilty of charges including membership of a criminal organisation preparing an Act of Terrorism.

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