On the 26th February 2018, Mr Justice Humphries delivered his judgement in the three test cases concerning the Minister of Justice and Equality’s recent decisions to refuse family reunification to naturalized refugees.
The cases were chosen to represent a larger number of cases currently in the High Court, all challenging the Minister of Justice and Equality’s recent decisions to refuse family reunification to naturalized refugees. These decisions were issued by the Minister contrast to the former policy to accept that naturalized refugees continued to have the rights to family reunification pursuant to the 1996 Refugee Act. An internal policy change implemented by the Minister, without notice to the applicants, resulted in the refusal of a large number of applications in circumstances where they would have previously been granted family reunification.
The Minister argued that a refugee ceases to be a refugee on acquiring Irish citizenship pursuant the definition of a refugee in national and international law, and a formal statutory provision for the revocation of their refugee status is not required.
The applicants argued that a formal withdrawal or cessation of refugee status is required by statutory provision, and while this is implemented in the International Protection Act 2015, it was not implemented under the Refugee Act 1996 as amended.
Mr Justice Humphries found in favour of the State, indicating that the cessation of refugee status is declaratory in nature, and refugees who become naturalized automatically cease to be a refugee, thus losing their refugee rights to family reunification.
The High Court decision is now the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal. We will post further updates on this case when there are any developments in the Court of Appeal.