Failure to provide for Afghani boy, in breach of human dignity and EU law
A young Afghani, who appears to be a minor, arrived in Ireland from Afghanistan to claim refugee status. He stated that he was in fear of the Taliban, who had killed his father. When he first arrived, social workers from the Child and Family Agency determined that he was an adult. There was no adult accommodation available. He was given a €28 Dunness Stores voucher and an address for a private charity in Dublin. He slept on the streets, had no food, was subject to attack and had nowhere to wash or use a toilet.
He later produced a form of identity from Afghanistan and appears now to have been accepted as a child.
Claim before the High Court
With the assistance of the Irish Refugee Council, he brought a case before the High Court. Mr Justice Meenan delivered a significant judgment last week. The judge determined that the Minister for Children, who is responsible for providing shelter, food and basic conditions to international protection applicants, had breached the boy’s right to human dignity.
Ireland signed up to an EU law, the Reception Conditions Directive, in 2018. It obliges the State to provide basic standards to international protection applicants while they are awaiting a decision about their refugee status applications. In defending the case, the Minister claimed that they were doing everything possible to source alternative sites for accommodating applicants but that there was no space available. The Minister said that they have been seeking facilities in premises such as schools, third level institutions, unused barracks and buildings used for sporting and arts facilities. There was a system in place for allocating spaces to those awaiting accommodation but there was not enough space available.
Breach of human dignity
For the first time, the High Court has declared that the State has breached article 1 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which provides that everyone is entitled to human dignity. The Court also determined that the Minister breached the Reception Conditions Directive. The case is especially significant because there are a number of similar cases awaiting the outcome of this lead case as well as over 300 international protection applicants who were treated in the same manner by the Minister.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.*