Press Centre

Plans for Summary Removal in Immigration Bill Contrary to International Law

PRESS RELEASE: 4 November 2010

Bill to be debated in Dail tomorrow

A coalition of seven national and regional organisations has called on legislators to drop provisions in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 that would allow for the summary removal of migrants, when they meet to discuss the draft legislation tomorrow (Friday 5 Nov).

The Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Women’s Rights will debate the Bill, which is the third attempt to reform Ireland’s immigration legislation.

The NGO coalition - comprising: Crosscare Migrant Project, Doras Luimní, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, The Integration Centre, the Irish Refugee Council and NASC: The Immigrant Support Centre - is campaigning to prevent summary removal provisions becoming law in Ireland, and is calling for the establishment of truly independent appeals mechanisms for immigration and protection decisions.

The main objection to the new Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010, is a provision which allows for the summary removal of migrants and those in need of protection, without access to a fair hearing.  Current procedures regarding removal provide an individual fifteen days to make representations to the Minister as to why they should be allowed to remain in the State. The new Bill would take away this basic right.

“Costly court challenges will inevitably follow Government moves to allow for the summary removal of migrants and those in need of protection in the proposed new immigration legislation.  Allowing for summary removals is also contrary to 2008 Supreme Court Rulings and ignores a recommendation from the UN Human Rights Committee which urged Ireland to outlaw summary removals as they are contrary to international law”.

”By granting immigration officials and Gardaí discretionary powers to remove persons they believe to be illegally present in the State, it is possible, indeed likely, that persons who wish to seek protection in Ireland may be turned away at first instance, or arrested on the street and subsequently deported, due to an inability to communicate their circumstances to the official in question.

"In Ireland we value fairness, transparency and due process. The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, in its current form, goes against these basic principles.  By allowing summary removals, the Bill denies minimum safeguards and tramples on an individual’s civil and fundamental rights.”

The coalition highlighted cases of people who, under the proposed legislation, would be left with no protection or access to justice. One undocumented worker, married to an Irish national, was viciously attacked in her apartment and left permanently maimed. Under the current legislation she was able to make representations to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform to regularise her status, due to the seriousness of the crime and her family status. Under the new Bill this would not be possible.

“We think the Irish public would be shocked to learn the unchecked powers that the Bill gives the Minister and the Gardaí.  We know from our past the danger of giving too much power to any one group or person.  Ireland’s historic practice of deporting people from this country in times of crisis cannot be allowed to happen again. We will not stand idly by and watch this draconian measure become law.”

“The introduction of summary removal without access to a fair hearing undermines the fundamental principles of constitutional justice. It belies the principles of justice and equality which are inherent in a democratic society.”