While Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’ may have made international headlines and drawn widespread criticism, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s severe restrictions on Libyan nationals obtaining permission to enter Ireland has somehow escaped such public exposure and condemnation.
Restrictions on the considerations of Irish visa applications from Libyan nationals, that have existed since 2014, have recently been reviewed by the Ministry for Justice, with the decision that all restrictions should remain in place.
Visas from Libyan nationals have been subject to an indeterminate suspension of considerations, excepting those with sponsorship from An Bord Bia and those in the oil industry.
This oppressive ban has hit Irish families with Libyan relations hard, as relatives are refused visas for no other reason than their nationality.
In the recent review of the restrictions, Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she took into account the ‘ongoing security situation in Libya’, and the ‘potential economic impact of the restrictions’. The situation in Libya does indeed remain dangerous, with intense fighting breaking out in areas, and the probability of terrorist attacks and kidnappings remaining high.
However, the restrictions in place by the Irish Government amount the a blanket ban on family reunification for many Irish citizens whose family members are Libyan citizens. The effect of the ban is causing serious damage to Libyan citizens, who are being excluded from the normal visa application process.
Our offices is aware of a number of these cases and we strongly believe that the blanket ban against Libyan citizens is an unlawful discretion of the Minister’s discretion, and in breach of our clients’ rights under Article 41 of the Constitution and Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, both provisions protecting an individual’s right to family life.
Our clients is currently acting on a number of cases in the High Court to challenge the lawfulness of the policy. One such case is concerned with the refusal to deal with visa applications of two Libyan nationals who wish to visit their son and his family in Ireland. the family meet all the normal requirements for the visa, except for the fact of their Libyan nationality. The cases are currently pending before the High Court awaiting a hearing date.
It is argued on behalf of the family has argued that the Minister for Justice has unlawfully fettered his discretion in adopting a fixed policy of refusing to accept visa applications based purely on the nationality of the applicants.
No such restrictions are in place in the United Kingdom or the 26 EU countries in the Schengen Area.
We believe that the current policy in place in Ireland is discriminatory and overbearing and hope for a successful court ruling against the policy as it stands.