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Supreme Court blocks State from deporting Algerian man linked to terrorism

The judge said it was not clear why the Minister for Justice concluded that the man was not at risk of being tortured if deported.

Five judges at the Supreme Court of Ireland ruled to reverse the government's decision in this case.
Five judges at the Supreme Court of Ireland ruled to reverse the government's decision in this case.
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THE SUPREME COURT has ruled that the Minister for Justice must reconsider a decision to remove an Algerian man with alleged links to Islamic terrorism against his removal from the State.

The State claimed the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is involved with Islamic terrorism and was convicted of terrorism offences in Algeria and France.

The Minister issued a deportation order after gardaí informed the Department of Justice the activities of the man and his associates were “of serious concern” and “contrary to the State’s security”.

The man, aged in his 50s and living in Ireland for several years, denies being involved in terrorism and claims that if deported to Algeria he is at risk of being tortured and subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment due to his political views.

The man, represented by Michael Lynn SC and David Leonard Bl, appealed a High Court order which found the Minister’s decision that there were no substantial grounds to find that the man would be at real risk of ill-treatment if deported to his home country was lawful.

The State opposed the appeal.

In its judgment today, five judges at the Supreme Court unanimously quashed the Minister for Justice’s refusal to revoke the deportation order issued in December last year.

The court remitted the man’s case back to the Minister for further reconsideration.

Giving the court’s decision, Justice Donal O Donnell said in this case there was “no reasonable basis” upon which any Minister could conclude there was no real risk of a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – that nobody should be treated to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.

The judge said he found it difficult to understand precisely how the Minister arrived at the conclusions in respect of the man that he was not at risk of being treated contrary to Article 3.

The judge said it was not sufficiently clear why the Minister came to the conclusion that the man could be deported to Algeria without a real risk of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment and why the Minister considered such a decision ought not to be revoked.

The judge said he had come to the conclusion he “could not have the level of assurance necessary that the decision sets out a clear reasoned path and one that was not flawed or incorrectly unjustifiable limitations or irrelevant legal considerations”.

The Minister’s finding was in contrast to an earlier finding by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal that considered the man’s application for protection that he was at risk if deported to Algeria.

To depart from such a finding required clear reasons, he said.

The judge said the revocation application is to go back to the Minister and should be addressed by focused submissions, including up-to-date information concerning Algeria.

There was no reason why the fresh consideration should not occur promptly, the judge said. Submissions, he said, should be focused on the issue whether there is a real risk on substantial grounds of the man being treated contrary to Article 3.

If the man only submits a generalised complaint with no attempt to focus submissions on his personal situation and the up-to-date position in Algeria, then he will find it difficult to complain about a decision which treats the issue at the same level of generality, the judge added.

Once the matter has been reconsidered by the Minister any outstanding issues in relation to the case should go back before the High Court, the judge added.

The Chief Justice Susan Denham, Justice John MacMenamin, Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Justice Iseult O’Malley all concurred with the decision.

Speaking after the judgment the man’s solicitor Gavin Booth of KRW Law welcomed the court’s decision.

He said that “it was always our case that the Minister could not deport this man without breaching Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

The man denies involvement in terrorism and rejects claims he is involved in groups such as Al-Qaeda. He has been in custody for some months and will remain in detention pending the outcome of the process.

During the 1990s, he was convicted of several offences in Algeria and received three life sentences and two death sentences, which are no longer carried out.

Those offences include forming an armed terrorist group intending to spread murder, sabotage, possession of prohibited war weapons assassination, theft intending to harm the security of his home country.

He was also convicted and jailed for eight years following his arrested in France in 2002.

A French court found him guilty of charges including membership of a criminal organisation preparing an Act of Terrorism.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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