New Complaints Procedure Available for Asylum Seekers via the Ombudsman

Tue, April 11, 2017

As of 4th April 2017, asylum seekers living in Direct Provision can now take a complaint to the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman for Children. Nasc has fought for many years for a more fair, objective and independent complaints procedure and the clarification of the Ombudsman’s remit over direct provision. This was a key recommendation in the McMahon Report and we welcome the move by the Department of Justice to implement that recommendation and ensure a more objective complaints mechanism is in place for asylum seekers in direct provision.

As an asylum seeker, you can now complain to the Ombudsman or to the Ombudsman for Children about issues you are having in your accommodation centre, or with RIA (the Reception and Integration Agency).

You should use this complaints system after you have first tried these two things:

  1.  Taking it to your manager in the accommodation centre
  2.  Taking it to RIA

If neither of these actions have resulted in what you believe to be a fair conclusion, then you should take your problem to the Ombudsman.

Ideally, you would do this within 12 months of something going wrong. However, if you can provide a good reason for it being later than 12 months, the Ombudsman will still consider the complaint.

There are certain types of complaints that the Ombudsman can consider. These are:

  1. Unfair decisions (in relation to your accommodation)
  2. Decisions that affect you in a negative way
  3. A decision that has not been fully explained to you
  4. Any unanswered phone-call, letter, or any type of correspondence
  5. Anything you have been told that is not true
  6. Any complaint that you feel has been dealt with fully
  7. Services set out in RIA’s House Rules:
    • Standard of accommodation
    • Meals
    • Cleaning
    • Facilities

There are certain types of complaints that the Ombudsman cannot consider. These are:

  1. Any legal issue – asylum, citizenship, family reunification, residency, visas.
  2. Any complaint that you have taken legal action on.

You can get legal advice about your problem. As long as you have not taken legal action, you can still bring the complaint to the Ombudsman.

 Your complaint should consist of:

  • The reason(s) you are unhappy
  • What you think could be done to fix the problem(s)
  • Include copies of letters, emails, reports and details of other communications between you and the accommodation centre or RIA.

Once you make your complaint, the Ombudsman will:

  • Ask the accommodation centre and RIA to send information about the issue
  • It should take three to six months to resolve.
  • You will be kept informed about what is happening.

You should not be afraid to complain. Making a complaint will not affect your asylum application, a protection application or an application for leave to remain.

For more information about the new complaints procedure for adults, visit the Ombudsman’s website HERE.  For information about the complaints procedure for children, visit the Ombudsman’s for Children’s website HERE.

Nasc continues to support residents of Direct Provision in making complaints.  If you would like support in making a complaint, email info@nascireland.org.