The Rights of Asylum Seekers & Ireland’s Draft CERD Report

UNCERD PicThe Department of Justice  have made a call for submissions on Ireland’s Draft Report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The submissions are due by 31 January 2018. The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration is leading Ireland’s submission, and have a public consultation in Dublin on January 23rd 2018 (registration here). The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is a treaty body, which reviews states compliance with the international treaty: the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD). As with most areas of international law, Ireland is only bound by UN CERD because it signed and ratified this international treaty. UNCERD sets down important rights for individuals relating to equality and non-discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights on the basis of race and ethnicity. Ireland’s compliance with UNCERD was last examined in 2011 by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Therefore, a significant period of time has passed.

In my submission to this consultation, I focus on the rights of asylum seekers and Ireland’s compliance with UN CERD. In my submission, I make four key recommendations:

  1. The State must provide more information on the delays within the protection status determination system and the remedial actions the State have or will adopt to shorten decision making backlogs in the International Protection Office and the International Protection Appeals Tribunal.
  2. Ireland should provide the CERD Committee with more information on the system of direct provision for asylum seekers, including measures adopted to improve standards of living for asylum seekers, including accommodation and levels of monetary payment and the parameters of the right to work for those seeing asylum. With the increased numbers of asylum seekers in direct provision, the State must explain to the Committee how the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are being effectively protected for asylum seekers.
  3. Further information on the rights of separated children should be provided. The Draft State Report should commit to ensuring the full application of the equity of care principle for separated children, in particular as regards ensuring judicial oversight of the placement of separated children into care, be it residential care or foster care. The human rights concerns with direct provision are more acute for separated children who ‘age-out’. The Draft State Report must commit to fully respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of this vulnerable group.
  4. Migrant women, and in particular asylum seeking women, must have their constitutional right to travel in order to obtain a termination of pregnancy effectively protected. Information provided in the Draft State Report must outline how Irish law, policy and practice aligns with minimum international human rights guarantees on access to abortion. This must include information on how asylum seeking women can have their right to access a termination outside of Ireland practically protected.