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Irish authorities need better info to judge asylum claims - group

Last update - Thursday, May 6, 2010, 13:50 By Catherine Reilly

A NIGERIAN GROUP says it can provide Irish authorities with authentic information about conflicts and persecution in Nigeria – if they request it.

The Nigeria Association Network Ireland (Nani) is currently researching thousands of documents and news articles from Nigerian media and NGO sources, and will present its findings to the Irish Govern-ment.
According to Murtala Dantoro, integration and admin officer at Nani, it is concerned that some failed asylum seekers with “real stories” are being deported under a “blanketing” rejection of their claims.
Last week 24 Nigerians were deported, with a newspaper report referring to one who was convicted of possession of drugs for the purpose of supply.
“The Irish Times referred to one having a drugs conviction. Fine, that’s not our business, but there are also innocent people who have gone through so much,” said Dantoro.
He estimated that up to two of every five Nigerians claiming asylum have “real stories”.
“Some of them are real, that is our concern,” said Dantoro. “And how are these cases taken into consideration?”
He said Nigeria “has loads of problems that need attention” and that relocation within the country isn’t always possible as destitution is widespread.
“We are not saying [authorities] shouldn’t do their job,” he said. “It is just unfair that so many people are going back to the same thing they’re running away from.”
Presently, in deciding whether or not to make a deportation order, the Department of Justice uses “reliable country of origin information” from “a wide variety of independent sources”, including organisations such as the UNHCR, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UK Home Office, the Canadian International Refugee Board, the US State Department and other EU member states, as well as media and internet sources.
The department accesses the library of the independent Refugee Documentation Centre, as does the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, where asylum applicants submit their initial claims and appeals, respectively.
According to the 2009 report of the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (Orac), the cases of 3,908 asylum seekers were decided upon last year, with only 78, or 2.5 per cent, granted refugee status. Most appeals to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal are also rejected.
Of the 28 April deportation to Nigeria, 21 of the 23 deportees were failed asylum seekers, and one male had a criminal conviction for drugs offences.
Of the 113 people deported so far this year, some 82 were Nigerian. The cost of the Nigerians' removal was over €280,000.
Nigerians remain the most frequent applicants for asylum.

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