UK firm ask Gov­ern­ment to apol­o­gise over de­ten­tion of man at Dublin air­port

Depart­ment of Jus­tice says de­por­ta­tion of trav­eller from Arab coun­try was ‘law­ful’ Man from Mid­dle East, who has refugee sta­tus and lives in Bri­tain, was en route to Cairo

The Irish Times - - Home News - SOR­CHA POL­LAK

The le­gal team of a man from an Arab coun­try , who was de­tained while tran­sit­ing through Dublin Air­port in June, has called on the Gov­ern­ment to apol­o­gise for mis­tak­enly de­port­ing him back to Lon­don.

The man from the Mid­dle East, who has refugee sta­tus and lives in Bri­tain, was pass­ing through Dublin Air­port en route to Cairo in June 2018 when he was de­tained by the Bor­der Man­age­ment Unit (BMU) of the Ir­ish Nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice (INIS).

The man, who can­not be named for le­gal rea­sons, had a two-hour lay­over be­tween his flight from Lon­don Luton Air­port and his on­ward jour­ney to Mu­nich. He had ar­ranged to travel from Ger­many to Cairo to visit his mother.

Be­fore the trip the man con­tacted the Ir­ish Em­bassy in Lon­don to con­firm whether he needed an Ir­ish visa to pass through Dublin Air­port. He says he was told a visa was not nec­es­sary. The man also con­sulted the INIS web­site which stated pas­sen­gers con­nect­ing to an­other flight would re­main “air­side of the bor­der”. The page did not spec­ify that pas­sen­gers trans­fer­ring be­tween ter­mi­nals would pass through bor­der con­trol.

While tran­sit­ing from Dublin Air­port’s Ter­mi­nal 1 to Ter­mi­nal 2 the man dis­cov­ered he had to go through bor­der con­trol. He pre­sented his UN travel doc­u­ment and tick­ets for fur­ther travel to a BMU im­mi­gra­tion staff mem­ber along with proof of re­turn flights to Lon­don later that month.

The of­fi­cer ques­tioned the man be­fore ac­cus­ing him of try­ing to re­turn to his home coun­try and then re­fused him leave to land, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the man’s so­lic­i­tors. He was de­tained for more than six and half hours, dur­ing which time his phone was ex­am­ined, be­fore be­ing es­corted on to a plane to Luton Air­port.

A let­ter from UK-based law firm Foun­tain So­lic­i­tor sent to the Min­is­ter for Jus­tice, the Min­is­ter for For­eign Af­fairs and the Ir­ish Em­bassy in Lon­don in early July ac­cused the of­fi­cer of go­ing “well be­yond his law­ful role” in his ques­tion­ing and en­gag­ing in “a fish­ing ex­er­cise to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion” from the man who was “gen­uinely a tran­sit pas­sen­ger who did not need a visa of any de­scrip­tion”.

As a re­sult of the de­ci­sion to de­tain and re­turn the man to Luton Air­port, he was un­able to visit his mother who he had not seen in two years, wrote the law firm. “Fur­ther­more, our client has been so dis­turbed by his treat­ment at Dublin Air­port that he has put on hold any plans to travel un­til this mat­ter is re­solved.”

Speak­ing to The Ir­ish Times, the man de­scribed the ex­pe­ri­ence as “to­tally hor­ri­ble”. “This was prob­a­bly the worst mo­ment of my life. This man was to­tally dis­re­spect­ful and took on the role of the in­ves­ti­ga­tor. I can­not travel any­more, I am paral­ysed after this.”

In its let­ter the law firm re­quested a writ­ten apol­ogy; a writ­ten state­ment that the de­ci­sion to refuse leave to land was “made in er­ror” and that any in­for­ma­tion taken from the man’s phone would be con­fi­den­tially dis­posed of. They also re­quested a writ­ten state­ment on any in­for­ma­tion shared with third par­ties; com­pen­sa­tion for the loss on flights and an ad­di­tional £5,000 as com­pen­sa­tion for the “un­law­ful de­ci­sion, un­law­ful de­ten­tion” and treat­ment the man re­ceived at Dublin Air­port.

‘Law­ful’

The Min­is­ter for Jus­tice’s pri­vate sec­re­tary replied that of­fi­cers had “dis­charged their du­ties in line with Ir­ish leg­is­la­tion” and that the ac­tions taken to re­move the man, who was treated with “re­spect and dig­nity”, from Ire­land were “law­ful”.

The sec­re­tary’s let­ter dis­putes the firm’s claim that pas­sen­gers trans­fer­ring be­tween ter­mi­nals at Dublin Air­port can re­main air­side, ar­gu­ing pas­sen­gers must clear im­mi­gra­tion and as a re­sult pro­ceed land­side.

On Au­gust 2nd, the INIS web page, which the man con­sulted ahead of his trip in June, was up­dated and now states pas­sen­gers may “in some cases” need to pass through bor­der con­trol when trans­fer­ring be­tween ter­mi­nals. When ques­tioned by the law firm about this up­date, the de­part­men­tal sec­re­tary said the in­for­ma­tion on the web­site “clearly sets out the cir­cum­stances un­der which a short stay visit visa is re­quired”.

In sub­se­quent cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the Foun­tain So­lic­i­tors firm and the depart­ment from Au­gust to Oc­to­ber 2018, the pri­vate sec­re­tary main­tained that the BMU of­fi­cers acted “law­fully”, writ­ing on Oc­to­ber 20th that “un­der these cir­cum­stances a writ­ten apol­ogy is not war­ranted”. Any in­con­ve­nience caused to the man is re­gret­table, he added.

Asked by The Ir­ish Times to com­ment on the case, a spokesman for the Depart­ment of Jus­tice re­fused to com­ment “for rea­sons of con­fi­den­tial­ity” but noted any per­son from a visa-re­quired coun­try “must have a short stay or long stay visa to pass through bor­der con­trol in Ire­land, in­clud­ing in some cases where the per­son has to trans­fer be­tween ter­mi­nals for a con­nect­ing flight”. If a per­son does not hold this visa they will be re­fused leave to land, he said.

‘‘ I can­not travel any­more, I am paral­ysed after this

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