129. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons that have been deported from Ireland to the Democratic Republic of Congo in each of the years from 2010 to date in 2013; the reason ten deportations from Ireland to DRC took place in June, 2013; if more deportations to DRC are likely to take place in 2013-2014; if any follow-up has taken place to ascertain the well-being and safety of the deportees since their deportations from Ireland to DRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that in 2010, 2 asylum seekers were deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 5 were deported in 2011, 1 in 2012 and 10 were deported in 2013 to date.
As outlined in my detailed response to Parliamentary Question Number 223 on 4th July, on 16th June last the 10 failed asylum seekers were deported from Ireland to Kinshasa in the DRC on a chartered flight which was organised through the EU FRONTEX network. Belgium, France and Germany also participated in this joint return operation.
In enforcing the law in this respect, Ireland is no different to other countries who also remove individuals who have no lawful right to remain within their territory. Ireland, like other EU member states, uses deportation of illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers as the policy of last resort. The process leading to a deportation is extensive with many avenues of appeal, including judicial review in the High Court, open to persons subject to Deportation Orders. It should also be noted that a Deportation Order requires a person to remove themselves from the State and it is only where they fail to do so that the State is forced to remove them and enforce the rule of law.
Deportations take place within the provisions of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, and after each case has been fully considered with regard to the eleven considerations contained in Section 3 (6) of that Act and Section 5 Prohibition of refoulement) of the Refugee Act, 1996. The safety of returning a person, or refoulement as it is commonly referred to, is fully considered in every case when deciding whether or not to make a deportation order i.e. that a person shall not be expelled from the State or returned in any manner whatsoever to a State where the life or freedom of that person would be threatened on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. My Department uses extensive country of origin information drawn from different independent sources in evaluating the safety of making returns to third countries, including the DRC.
Each asylum application received from a citizen of the DRC is considered on the basis of the facts, individual circumstances and merits of the case presented and a final decision is reached following a comprehensive examination and investigation of these facts, merits and circumstances taking full account of the political and human rights conditions prevailing in DRC and the latest reports of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
The enforcement of a Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. In general, removals are either carried out using commercial flights which usually involves transit through other European airports as Ireland does not have direct flights to most of the countries of return. Alternatively, chartered flights organised through the EU FRONTEX network are often led by another EU State and this determines the timing of specific operations including to the DRC.