Tag Archive for: asylum seekers



A Convention Travel Document refers to a travel document issued in accordance with Article 28 of the Geneva Convention and is a document issued to refugees.

Ireland is a signatory to the European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees and as part of this arrangement the holder of a Convention Travel Document issued by another contracting State is not subject to Irish visa requirements for short stays of up to 90 days and can request entry to Ireland for up to 90 days as a non-visa required person.

If a person with a Convention Travel Document from a relevant country wishes to live or reside in Ireland on a long-term basis, they are required to apply for a visa in advance of travel to the State, the visa waiver applies only to short stays of up to 90 days.

This applies to holders of a Convention Travel Document issued by Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland.

As of Tuesday 19th July 2022, Ireland has decided to avail of the option to temporarily suspend the operation of this Agreement in Ireland for a period of 12 months.

Article 7 of the Agreement allows for signatories to the Agreement to temporarily suspend its operation for several reasons, including public order, security, or public health.

The Government announced yesterday that Ireland’s temporary suspension of the Agreement will be notified to the Council of Europe.

The Government will also be required to make an order to amend the Immigration Act 2004 (Visas) Order 2014 to put the requirement for entry visas for holders of refugee convention documents from the relevant countries on a statutory footing.

The Minister for Justice has stated that the reason for the move to suspend the operation of the Agreement in Ireland is due to the number of applications for international protection in Ireland by those who have been granted refugee status in another State.

The Minister’s notice states that from January 2021 to January 2022 the Minister was notified that 760 applicants for international protection had been granted international protection in another State, with 479 being granted protection in the Member States whose beneficiaries of international protection are visa exempt.

We would submit that 479 is a small number when the applications for international/ temporary protection are considered.

Between January 2019 to January 2022 the Minister has indicated she received 6,494 applications for international protection. As of 10th July 2022, 43,256 PPS numbers have been issued to Ukrainian nationals, indicating over 40,000 Ukrainian nationals have been granted temporary protection in Ireland.

Furthermore, persons who have been granted refugee status in another country may still have a valid claim to make for protection in Ireland. We recall the case of MAH v The Minister for Justice [2021] IEHC 302, judgement delivered on 30th April 2021 by Ms Justice Tara Burns. The Applicant was a Somali national who had studied medicine in Ukraine. Upon completion of her studies, she returned to Somalia where she worked as a junior doctor. During this time, the Applicant was subjected to threats from a fundamentalist group and so she fled to Ukraine by renewing her student visa. Upon the expiry of her student visa, she applied for asylum in Hungary and was granted refugee status. However, the applicant was homeless in Hungary, and was unable to obtain work. She was physically assaulted by a man and feared being sexually assaulted by others. She also experienced significant racist abuse. The Minister for Justice in Ireland issued a deportation order against the Applicant.

Ms Justice Burns assessed the Respondent’s consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 as amended, and stated her findings as follows:

I am of the view that the Respondent incorrectly assessed the COI; failed to consider whether the presumption that her fundamental rights would be upheld in Hungary had been rebutted; and failed to properly consider the Applicant’s employment prospects pursuant to s. 3(6)(f) of the 1999 Act, the Respondent’s determination in respect of the Deportation Order is vitiated by these errors.

In granting the Applicant the reliefs sought, Ms Justice Burns summarised that:

‘the founding architects of the system of international protection which is in place in Europe today, would be of the view that we, as a people, have badly failed the Applicant in this case.’

A link to our blog on this judgement can be found here.

We would argue that it is unfair and unhelpful that the justification put forward by the Minister for Justice in suspending the operation of this agreement in Ireland is abuse of the system.


Ireland fails to meet the minimum standards in eliminating human trafficking according to the Trafficking in Persons Report, which is published annually by the US Department of State. The minimum standards are set forth by the Trafficking of Human Persons Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). This act places each country into four tiers: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3. In previous years (2012-2017) Ireland had been categorized as a Tier 1 country, which means it fully met the TVPA’s standards to eradicate human trafficking. However, for the past two years, Ireland has been categorized as a Tier 2 country. Tier 2 means that Ireland does not meet the minimum standards established by the TVPA but is making efforts to do so.

According to the US report, Ireland’s efforts in prosecution and victim protection are ‘insufficient’. Specifically, the report claims that Ireland does meet the TVPA’s minimum standards for the following reasons:

  • Since the law was amended in 2013, Ireland has failed to make a conviction in human trafficking;
  • In 2018, authorities failed to initiate any prosecutions in human trafficking;
  • Authorities have a chronic deficiency in victim identification, referral, and assistance; and
  • Ireland lacks specialized accommodations and services for the victims.

The US report states that Ireland needs to ‘Vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict suspected offenders of both sex and labor trafficking using the trafficking law.’ The failure to make convictions in human trafficking cases or even initiate prosecution deters victims from coming forth and testifying. To support the victims and encourage them to testify, there needs to be certain protections in place for the victims.

Although Ireland has been trying to increase protection for the victims through new identification and referral mechanisms, it still fails to protect the victims in accordance with TVPA standards. According to the US report, the primary issue with Ireland’s identification method is that there are only formal procedures to identify victims who lack legal residency in Ireland. Thus, there are no formal procedures to identify EEA nationals, Irish nationals, and asylum seekers (with pending applications) as possible human trafficking victims. As a result, EEA nationals and Irish nationals do not have equal protection and equal access to the specialized assistance that Ireland provides to human trafficking victims, because they are not formally recognized as such based on the current identification mechanism.

Furthermore, the US report criticized Ireland’s referral mechanism. Currently, Ireland provides victims with health services, immigration permissions, accommodation, welfare and rent allowance, police assistance, residence permits, repatriation, translation and interpretation assistance, and access to education for dependent children. One of the criticisms of Ireland’s referral mechanism is that it does not offer legal assistance to victims to help them with investigations and trials. This contributes to a lack of prosecutions and convictions. Additionally, there is no legal requirement for victims to receive psychiatric counselling and the counselling available has been deemed ‘insufficient’. The report claims there is ‘a lack of specialized services in the centers for all victims, but especially for female victims who had been traumatized due to psychological, physical, or sexual violence.’

Ireland not only lacks  specialized services for human trafficking victims, but also shelters specifically allocated for human trafficking victims. As of now, Ireland provides accommodations for human trafficking victims through its direct provisions system. The direct provisions system was initially established to provide services for asylum-seekers. The US report states that the direct provisions system ‘had inadequate privacy, was unsuitable and potentially unsafe for traumatized victims, could expose them to greater exploitation, and undermined victim recovery.’

Due to the issues noted above, Ireland fails to comply with the standards set forth by the TVPA. In order to be in full compliance with the TVPA standards, the US report recommends that Ireland takes the following actions:

  • Train law enforcement and prosecutors on developing cases with evidence to corroborate victim testimony and train law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors on a victim-centered approach;
  • Improve victim identification and referral and issue a revised referral mechanism in coordination with NGOs, offering formal identification, a recovery and reflection period, and services to all victims without referral from police;
  • Increase efforts to identify and protect all victims, especially of labor trafficking and forced criminality, and stop joint inspections between labor inspectors and immigration authorities, which pose a barrier to identification of victims;
  • Adopt a legal provision to exempt victims from inappropriate penalization for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit;
  • Offer specialized accommodation to victims;
  • Amend the atypical working scheme for sea fishers to reduce their risk of labor trafficking;
  • Increase legal assistance for trafficking victims, including for assisting investigations and court proceedings that can be accessed at the earliest opportunity and prior to engaging with police;
  • Establish a national hotline to report trafficking crimes and provide victim assistance and referral;
  • Increase access for victims to compensation, particularly for those involved in sex trafficking; and
  • Establish an independent national rapporteur to help identify and address gaps in antitrafficking strategy and efforts.

Not only does Ireland need to prosecute and convict traffickers to the full extent of the law, but it also needs to ensure that it provides adequate support for the victims, i.e. health services, psychiatric counselling, specialized accommodations, legal assistance.

For more information please read this article.
The full Trafficking in Persons Report can be read here.