Man ‘who was tortured’ gets new hearing over refugee status

A Somali, who claimed he was kidnapped, tortured and subjected to forced labour in his home country, has won a legal challenge in the High Courtagainst a decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal not to declare him a refugee.

In a reserved judgment Ms Justice Mary Faherty quashed the decision and transferred the case to the tribunal for a new hearing.

The judge said the man, who is in his 30s and cannot be identified for legal reasons, claimed to be a member of the Reer Xamar clan in southern Somalia.

He had claimed that during the Somalian Civil War his family had been persecuted by another clan on grounds of race and ethnicity because of their membership of the Reer Xamar clan. His father and two brothers had been killed, his sister kidnapped and forced into marriage and two other brothers had disappeared.

The judge said the man alleged he had been attacked, shot and kidnapped several times. A threat had also been made against him by members of anIslamist terrorist group who believed he was a spy for the then transitional government.

He had arrived in Ireland in the late 2000s, where he had unsuccessfully applied for asylum. An appeal to that decision had later been rejected and the man had applied to the High Court for a judicial review.

The judge said the man had claimed the tribunal had relied on a flawed language analysis report prepared by controversial Swedish company Sprakaband had alleged that the qualifications of the analyst were unclear.

The report had concluded the man’s knowledge of the Reer Xamar sounded “rehearsed” and the tribunal had found his general credibility, including his claim of membership to the Reer Xamar clan, could not be assessed.

The man had engaged another language analysis firm, De Taalstudio, based in the Netherlands, which prepared a contra-expertise that found the quality of the Sprakab analysis was poor.

“This constitutes to my mind a failure of jurisdiction on the part of the decision-maker. Due process requirement obliged the tribunal member to weigh the De Taal report with all of the other evidence to assess whether the applicant was of Reer Xamar ethnicity,” the judge said.

The judge said the decision of the tribunal had not indicated what weight was given to an assessment of the applicant’s mental state which had found he showed “features” of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The tribunal member’s assessment of the applicant’s account of his history is impugned as a result,” the judge said.

The judge quashed the tribunal decision rejecting the applicant’s appeal in relation to his asylum claim and remitted the case to the tribunal for a new hearing before a different tribunal member.

This article was originally published in the Irish Times

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