Republican News · Thursday 31 August 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Supreme Court ruling legalises discrimination


Those fighting to uphold the human rights of asylum seekers in the 26 Counties suffered a major setback this week with the Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of the `Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill. Monday's interpretation of the constitution enshrines the very racist, discriminatory attitudes that Gerry Adams condemned so forcefully in a statement the previous week.

The court ruled that it was constitutional to restrict the time asylum seekers have in which to seek a judicial review of the rejection of their application for refugee status to 14 days. Normally a citizen has six months in which to seek a judicial review process.

This judgement enshrines in law that a group of people living in this country do not have the same rights as the rest of the people. It is a most disturbing interpretation of the Constitution, which purports to uphold the right of all people living in this state to equal treatment. This judgement limits equality.

Further, the Supreme Court decided that Article 10 of the Act, which allows for the detention of asylum seekers for up to eight weeks if the gardai have suspicion that that person may evade deportation, was not repugnant to the Constitution.

This judgment gives Gardaí the power to arrest and imprison people on suspicion that they may do something. It is the power of a police state, for what would ever constitute evidence that the Gardaí had been at fault in their suspicions?

It is appalling to lock up those who have been refused sanctuary in this state by a process which Peter Findlay S.C., who headed up the appeals procedure, has described as a farce and a travesty of justice, is appalling.

Reacting to the decision, Tallaght Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Crowe said: ``The prospect that asylum seekers will be shipped to a prison or confined in a detention centre opens up a vision of appalling abuse of human rights. What, after all, are asylum seekers' crimes except the persecution and abuse they have endured, which has led them to leave their own homeland?''

Justice minister John O'Donoghue has already signed 450 deportation orders, which the Garda National Immigration Bureau is waiting to execute. The Gardaí have said that the majority of these will now be effected as quickly as personnel allows.

The new Act, now law, gives the Gardaí draconian powers. This is a slippery slope.

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