Tag: asylum seekers

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection

When we think about asylum-seekers and the countries that are unable or unwilling to protect them, our thoughts may turn to Shia Hazara families fleeing Taliban violence in Afghanistan. We may think about the arbitrary detention of activists in Damascus by the Syrian Democratic Forces. As we think about what drives a decision to flee one’s country, the Eritrean government’s barbaric acts of torture and its imprisonment of Asmara residents, and the Midgan clans use of female genital mutilation as a political tool to control women in Somalia may also spring to mind.

We may turn to lawyers and human rights experts to gain a better understanding of why militant organizations seeking to establish an Islamic state may arouse fear in political activists. Academic journals, country reports, and case law may also highlight how the inundation of terrorist propaganda in rogue nations can grow to be dangerous for the average national.

As we journey away from the transgressions above, imagine that an individual fled their country because members of a criminal organization seek to extort and harm them. Are they entitled to international protection? What if authorities in a country fail to arrest the suspects who repeatedly assault and threaten a member of the LGBTI community? Suppose a student activist fled their country after police racially profiled and assaulted them, and the courts refuse to prosecute. Is this a legitimate claim for international protection? What if a whistleblower wrote an academic piece about the human rights conditions in their country, because they felt disclosure was in the public’s interest; however, had their act of fearless speech — that stands testimony to wrong — chilled by media in their country? Let’s assume mainstream did it to conceal from the public, serious government wrongdoing that ought to be known and deliberated about. Are they entitled to international protection? If the answer is yes, would it still be if we learned the individual fled Oceania, Europe, or North America? Some jurisdictions would argue no, as these nations have a democratic style of leadership. When there is a system of checks and balances, and “constitutional guarantees” of due process in place, a country is considered a safe country of origin. To be sure, the European Union’s Directive 2013/32/EU (Annex I) states:

“A country is considered as a safe country of origin where, on the basis of the legal situation, the application of the law within a democratic system and the general political circumstances, it can be shown that there is generally and consistently no persecution as defined in Article 9 of directive 2011/95/EU, no torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and no threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.”

One cannot possibly accept this definition, as “consistently” indicates that in every democratic regime case, there is no persecution, torture, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment, nor is there indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict on any occasion. That is a heavy burden for a country to meet, even those with a democratic style of leadership. If a country contends that its behavior is consistent with every citizen, and there are absolutely no forms of persecution on its soil, can we really trust it? Moreover, can we trust the international bodies that believe it too? It is a question that figures prominently in terms of the principle of non-refoulement — the practice of not forcing asylum-seekers and refugees to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution.

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection – Are States Complicit?

Another question of huge significance is whether the country of asylum participates in wrongdoing committed by the agent of persecution when it imposes an irrebuttable presumption on the claimant not to qualify as a refugee under the Refugee Convention. Miles Jackson explores the idea of attribution in Complicity in International Law, and asserts that countries “cooperate with each other and with non-state actors all the time, often virtuously but sometimes wrongfully.” Indeed, in Goldstein v. Sweden, an American asylum-seeker was subjected to systematic police persecution and surveilled after he actively worked to reveal police brutality and other misconduct by the police in the United States. Non-state actors destroyed Goldstein’s property and attacked him with chemical substances. Even though Goldstein’s reports to the police authorities had been to no avail, the Swedish Migration Board decided there was no evidence to show that the United States police authorities had persecuted Goldstein and found him “not in need of protection in Sweden.” Goldstein appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Although Sweden breached its international obligation to offer protection, the ECtHR decided the United States could obviate the risk of non-state actors by providing appropriate protection.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) reached a similar conclusion in (Re), 2014 CanLII 88897. In that case, applicants of Roma ethnicity in Hungary asserted Commandos forced themselves into their home and assaulted them. Their children were also assaulted on numerous occasions at school and on the bus. Although the applicants emphasized these attacks were racially motivated, the IRB rejected the appeal on grounds that Hungarian “police are being held accountable for their actions if they fail to take Roma complaints seriously or become agents of persecution of Roma citizens themselves.” While the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance encouraged Hungary to make further changes to continue its fight against racism, a recent report shows extensive discriminatory and abusive police practices against Roma still exist. What is more, many of the police officers interviewed in the report admitted to ethnic profiling. If the rule of attribution were applied, Hungary’s inaction would constitute a breach of its positive obligations to take measures to prevent violations committed by non-state actors, an obligation conditioned by a due diligence standard. With regard to Canada, Jackson suggests imposing a correlative duty of non-participation, as it would hold Canada responsible for its own contribution to the wrongdoing.

In both cases, the asylum-seekers laid out a plausible claim for international protection, and had it withheld because they were from countries that were considered “safe.” The appeals of asylum-seekers from “safe countries” are often not suspensive. In other words, these asylum-seekers will be deported to their country of origin pending the appeal decision, which The European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and EuroMed Rights argues, renders the right to recourse ineffective in practice. Others have also argued that the concept reduces safeguards on procedural standards, places an extra burden on applicants, and reduces their chance to be granted protection.

The presumption that a country is “safe” for all of its citizens has been criticized by NGOs and scholars. EuroMed Rights, AEDH, and FIDH also opposes the notion of “safe countries of origin,” and points to members of minority groups who can face specific discrimination in countries where the rest of the population is generally “safe.” Although the UNHCR likened the presumption to a form of discrimination, when its committees and councils disregard violations committed by state and non-state actors in democratic regimes, and fail to hold these regimes responsible for positive obligation breaches, it acquiesces to such violations.

It is not argued here that an applicant who cannot substantiate a risk regarding the lack of state protection should be bestowed Convention Refugee status. The contention is this: when a country of asylum connivingly uses an irrebuttable presumption to withhold international protection — believing a low rate of convictions before human rights tribunals is proof that there are few rights violations in that country — it should be held accountable for its role in the toleration of the private human rights violations. To be sure, Jackson suggests where complicity is found in an international law matter, accomplices must be held responsible for their own acts of contribution to the principal’s wrong.

Take, for example, the case of A. v. Migrationsverket. In that case, the Swedish authorities relied on the rebuttable presumption in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive for procedures based on the safe country of origin concept to withhold international protection from a Serbian national, despite the fact it did not fully implement the concept in legislation. The Court of Justice for the European Union held when a Member State has not implemented the concept of a safe country of origin into relevant laws, regulations, and administrative provisions, it cannot reject an asylum application as manifestly unfounded on the grounds that the applicant is from a safe country of origin.

Lastly, there is a widely circulated claim that asylum-seekers from democratic regimes are not “real refugees” but are “economic migrants.” However, this is a charge launched against genuine applicants to degrade them and undermine the rights that emerge from obtaining Convention Refugee status. Many of these asylum-seekers bear some of the most powerful passports in the world that enables them to enter countries that have cordially recognized free migration and emigration for purposes of curiosity, trade, or to remain as permanent residents. This observation should demystify the specious argument that asylum-seekers from democratic regimes are leveraging incriminating country of origin evidence and fabricated stories so as to enter and remain in a foreign country.

Immigration and refugee law makes clear that the right to asylum is not a right to abreaction. It is a right to have an application for international protection carried out on an individual basis. The most effective way to exercise this right is for the persecuted to leave their country, and to provide evidence that outweighs a general presumption that their country is safe. The country of asylum must adequately examine and consider such evidence. When countries of asylum adopt and enforce administrative edicts based on nationality, they not only suspend this fundamental right, but they also breach their obligation not to discriminate — a precept widely recognized under international anti-discrimination law. In the words of the late Desmond Tutu, to remain neutral in situations of injustice is to be complicit in that injustice.

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection was originally published on 5th January 2022.

Cork Asylum Seeker Turns to NASC for Support Amidst Human Rights Violations in Direct Provision

Cork Asylum Seeker Turns to NASC for Support Amidst Human Rights Violations in Direct Provision

Cork Asylum Seeker Turns to NASC for Support Amidst Human Rights Violations in Direct Provision via open letter below:

Hello Mrs. Hurley,

I hope this email finds you well. My name is Quianna Canada, and I am writing to you to request NASC’s assistance and support in communicating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On March 24, 2023, I published an article on my website urging the UNHCR to investigate Ireland’s coercive repatriation practices. Since the publication of the article, an authority figure has continued to curtail my efforts in reaching the UNHCR.

As an asylum seeker residing in Direct Provision, I have been exposed to cruel and unusual treatment and punishment which has negatively impacted my well-being. Unfortunately, I have not been permitted to communicate this dire situation to the UNHCR due to several reasons, one of which includes lack of access to proper channels of communication.

Considering your organization’s mandate to “link” asylum seekers to their rights, I am kindly requesting your assistance in acting as an intermediary between the UNHCR and I. I strongly believe that your support will not only help me, but will also help other asylum seekers who have been exposed to arbitrary and capricious treatment in this institution.

Cork Asylum Seeker Turns to NASC for Support Amidst Human Rights Violations in Direct Provision – Cites UNHCR Handbook

As you know, the right to contact a UNHCR representative is mentioned in the UNHCR Handbook (pp. 42-43, para. 192 (iv)). Indeed, any restrictions on an asylum seeker’s right to contact the UNHCR raises doubts as to Ireland’s compliance with international standards. 

The Council Directive 2005/85/EC further recognizes the importance of UNHCR’s involvement and regards it as a basic safeguard applicable to all types of asylum procedures. For instance, Article 10 (c) reads that asylum seekers:

“shall not be denied the opportunity to communicate with the UNHCR or with any other organization working on behalf of the UNHCR in the territory of the Member State pursuant to an agreement with that Member State…” Article 21 further states that Member States shall allow the UNHCR (a) to have access to applicants for asylum, and (b) to have access to information on individual applications for asylum, on the course of the procedure and on the decisions taken, provided that the applicant for asylum agrees…”

I really would like to work with NASC on this pressing issue and receive its support. I am also willing to meet with you in person to discuss this matter further.

Thank you very much for considering my request. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Quianna Canada 

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

International law jurists have struggled to define torture. One of the earliest attempts to define it was in the 1500s, where it was described as an “infliction of severe bodily pain as a means of punishment or persuasion.”[1]

Then in 1612, Italian jurist Sebastian Guazzini defined torture “as the distress of body devised for extracting truth.”[2]

When populations thinks of torture, their mind often travels to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba or some unknown top secret military site in the middle of nowhere.

But what if these acts—instead of occurring in some unknown black site across the world—are happening right in your own backyard?

Direct Provision was introduced by the Irish government as an emergency measure in 1999 to provide international protection applicants or asylum seekers with ‘…a range of State services, including food and accommodation.’ Its initial goal was to offer short-term accommodation for asylum seekers who were arriving in the country at the time. However, it has received averse publicity and has been a source of controversy over the years.

For instance, asylum seekers have mysteriously died in the institution, with the coroner’s office declaring the cause of death of these unknown. How are some of the most vulnerable persons, who have travelled miles over sea and land to achieve safety, dying in an institution that is supposed to protect them?

Reports continue to surface from tormented voices within direct provision that Officials are punishing individuals for seeking asylum in Ireland. It’s not quite like the Trump Administration—foil blanket for asylum seekers within detention centres punishment…it’s worse.

Testimony from the voices within Direct Provision, include but are not limited to, the alleged force feeding of asylum seekers, eviction of asylums seekers who complain about housing conditions, theft of an asylum seekers personal property by staff, and most surprisingly….torture.

One specific incident of torture is the use of high-technology noise. One of the earliest accounts of its use was in 1977, which was used on two Israeli prisoners who described the incident as strange noises that “disturbed their sleep.”[3] Although no reports of this kind of torture have been documented in decades, asylum seekers in Direct Provision are coming forward with claims of being subjected noises like those heard in the Frigidaire.

Although there have been marches in Ireland in recent weeks that over the presumption that asylum seekers are not being vetted, some argue the torture experienced in Direct Provision is being secretly used to vet particular asylum seekers or to forcibly repatriate them, and drive them out of Ireland.

Presently, the UN Declaration against Torture defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed, or intimidating him or other persons.”

But what does an individual do when (1) they have experienced persecution in their country of origin and cannot return, and (2) are being subjected to torture just for seeking asylum?

Want to learn more about the making of Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture? Email me here.


[1] Humanterm. (n.d.). Torture. Universidad Europea. Available at: https://humantermuem.es/content/torture-en/?lang=en

[2] Rejali, D. M. (2009). Torture and democracy. Princeton University Press.

[3] Id.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Must Investigate Ireland's Coercive Repatriation Practices

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Should Investigate Ireland’s Coercive Repatriation Practices

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Should Investigate Ireland’s Coercive Repatriation Practices before its too late.

MARCH 24, 2023

To the esteemed members of the United Nations:
I, the undersigned, write to draw your attention to the pressing issue of coercive repatriation in Ireland, a practice that violates the fundamental rights of asylum seekers in the State. I urge the United Nations to undertake a comprehensive investigation into this practice in Ireland, and to take necessary steps to ensure that it is eliminated.

Coercive Repatriation in Ireland

Coercive repatriation refers to the forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries, often in violation of the principles of non-refoulement and the right to seek asylum. Despite the contentions of those involved, some asylum seekers in Ireland have fled their country due to police violence and brutality, gun violence, racism, or discrimination on the basis of their gender identity.  I further submit that some asylum seekers are at risk of real harm if they are returned. Despite the risks faced, the International Protection Office in Ireland and staff in Direct Provision continue to engage in this coercive practice, which disregards an asylum seekers basic human rights under international and human rights law. It is essential that the United Nations investigate this issue and take action to put an end to Ireland’s effort to coercively repatriate asylum seekers, on account that it has formed diplomatic relations with an asylum seeker’s country of origin. Moreover, it is settled law that any repatriation through coercive means is a breach of Art. 33 of the Refugee Convention.

Responsibility of the United Nations to Investigate

The United Nations has a responsibility to uphold human rights of all individuals, regardless of their nationality and race. By investigating this practice and working to eliminate it, the United Nations can help protect my rights, and the rights of other asylum seekers, ensuring that we are all treated with dignity and respect.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Must Investigate Ireland’s Coercive Repatriation Practices! Comprehensive Investigated Required.

In conclusion, I call on the United Nations to act without delay on this important matter. I also urge the United Nations to launch a comprehensive investigation into Ireland’s coercive repatriation and to take strong actions to ensure that this practice is stopped once and for all. I believe that this is a critical matter that demands immediate attention, and I stand ready to support the United Nations in any way possible, with any evidence and documentation I have complied over the last two years, to achieve a just and humane solution.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Quianna Canada

Coercive Repatriation: A Human Rights Crisis on the Rise in Ireland

Coercive Repatriation: A Human Rights Crisis on the Rise in Ireland

Coercive Repatriation: A Human Rights Crisis on the Rise in Ireland

Coercive repatriation, sometimes referred to as forced repatriation, is the practice of forcibly returning individuals to their country of origin, usually against their will. It is a phenomenon that has been on the rise in recent years, and one that is increasingly being recognized as a human rights crisis with potentially devastating consequences.

According to Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries. Some Americans seek asylum in other countries due to government persecution, police violence or other threats to their safety and well-being. However, Ireland is using more aggressive tactics to try to repatriate Americans who seek asylum on their soil, regardless of the risks and dangers they may face upon their return to the United States.

The practice of coercive repatriation is a clear violation of international human rights law. Ireland is a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which prohibits it from forcing asylum seekers to return to their country of origin when they would face persecution or other serious threats to their life, freedom, or well-being. Further, under international law, all persons— including Americans—have the right to seek asylum and protection from persecution.

Despite these legal frameworks, Ireland is engaging in coercive repatriation or other practices that make it difficult or impossible for American asylum seekers to access their rights. This includes tactics like pitting asylum seekers, NGOs and other community members against them, all of which can leave American asylum seekers effectively stranded and at risk of harm.

The consequences of coercive repatriation can be dire. For instance, many Americans who are repatriated in this way face arrest, detention, torture, or even death upon their return, particularly where they have been previously attacked for their race, political opinions or other characteristics.

Additionally, the trauma and psychological harm that can result from being forcibly removed from one’s new home and returned to a situation of danger and uncertainty can have long-lasting effects on their well-being.

Despite the clear legal and moral imperatives to protect all asylum seekers from harm, the rising trend of coercive repatriation illustrates how far Ireland is from meeting its obligations under international law.

Advocates and policymakers around the world must work together to ensure that the rights of all asylum seekers are upheld and that they have access to timely and effective protection from persecution and other serious threats to their safety.

In conclusion, coercive repatriation is a deeply concerning phenomenon that poses a clear threat to the rights and safety of American asylum seekers. It is a problem that demands immediate attention from the international community, and one that must be addressed with urgency and compassion.

Coercive Repatriation: A Human Rights Crisis on the Rise in Ireland – If you know someone that is being coercively repatriated, please contact us.

Direct Provision Case Brief - Guerra v. Ireland

Direct Provision Case Brief – Guerra v. Ireland

Direct Provision Case Brief – Guerra v. Ireland

Facts: Maria Guerra is a citizen of Barcelona, Spain. She is a feminist who engaged in several gender protests at Puerta del Sol square in 2021, where she carried a placard that read: “Male violence is also a pandemic.” In November 2021, three male law enforcement officers stopped Guerra while she was driving home. During the stop, they taunted Guerra for her activism. Guerra attempted to record the incident, but law enforcement officers yanked her out of the car. The law enforcement officers pinned Guerra to the pavement while each officer proceeded to sexually assault her.

Guerra fled to Ireland in 2022 and was transferred to the Baleseskin Reception Centre. While residing in Direct Provision, Guerra claims she suffered repeated acts of harassment by male asylum seekers. Guerra also claims her e-mail and website accounts were hacked into and that individuals used her real name to send false e-mails from her personal accounts. Although Guerra reported the incidents to numerous NGOs in Dublin, none took action. She also sent correspondence to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, requesting a formal meeting. However, no action was taken. The conduct transpired over a year.

Issue: Whether Ireland’s conduct rises to the level of degrading treatment and lack of respect for private life.


Article 3

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Article 8

“1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”

“2.  There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

Analysis of Direct Provision Case Brief – Guerra v. Ireland

Repatriation Efforts

Guerra believes her experience in direct provision is part of Ireland’s interdiction effort to drive her back to Spain. Guerra has come to this conclusion because she has launched several complaints to authority figures that has been disregarded. It is settled law that any repatriation through coercive means is a breach of Art. 33 of the Refugee Convention. Repatriation efforts, such as the repeated hacking into an applicant’s devices to intimidate and drive them back to their country, can violate Ireland’s positive obligations to protect the applicant against the real and immediate risk of forcible transfer to Spain.


In Opuz v. Turkey, hacking was defined as:

“The use of technology to gain illegal or unauthorized access to systems or resources for the purpose of acquiring personal information, altering or modifying information, or slandering and denigrating the victim. It also takes the form of violating passwords and controlling computer functions.” “Surveillance/tracking was defined as the use of technology to monitor a victim’s activities and behaviors either in real-time or historically (such as GPS tracking, or tracking keystrokes in order to recreate the victim’s computer activity).” See Opuz, no. 33401/02, §§ 72-82, ECHR 2009.

When individuals use technology to gain illegal or unauthorised access to systems or resources for the purpose of altering or modifying information and denigrating the victim, the ECtHR is likely to find a breach. In the present case, Guerra has submitted extensive documentary evidence and screenshots of changed passwords, lost e-mails, and the tracking of her keystrokes in order to recreate her computer activity. The question that must be answered is whether this conduct violates the Convention.

Guerra alleges that a man, who she once dated, is involved in the improper interception of her personal files from her laptop and e-mails. She claims Ireland dismissed the connection between her activism in Spain, the harassment in Dublin that has not been adequately addressed by officials, and the failure to take into consideration the many forms of intimidation that she had encountered while awaiting a determination on her asylum application. In Buturugă v. Romania, a cybercrime case, the ECtHR found a violation of Article 3 and Article 8 of the Convention on account of the State’s failure to fulfil its positive obligations under those provisions as it relates to cyber-harassment.

Conclusion: The ECtHR could find Ireland in violation of Article 3 and 8 of the Convention on account of its coerced repatriation efforts, and its failure to fulfil its positive obligations under those provisions.

Guerra v. Ireland is part of a series of fictional cases based on true events that have occurred in Direct Provision

Direct Provision Case Brief - Gelashvili vs. Ireland

Direct Provision Case Brief – Gelashvili vs. Ireland

Direct Provision Case Brief – Gelashvili vs. Ireland

Facts: Tamaz Gelashvili is a foreign national from Georgia. In 2016, Gelashvili went to the supermarket to buy some eggs and milk. On his way home, he witnessed an effeminate man being assaulted by a group of men. He recorded the incident on his iPhone and uploaded the footage to TikTok. The video went viral. Gelashvili soon learned the group of men were undercover police officers. Hours later, investigative police arrived at his door demanding Gelashvili turn over the footage. Gelashvili refused, as police officers did not display a warrant. The following month, Gelashvili received threatening phone calls from a variety of individuals calling him homophobic slurs. When Gelashvili reported the incident to the police, they laughed and did the same. A week later, Gelashvili was severely beaten on his way home.

In June 2016, Gelashvili filed asylum in the country of Ireland. The International Protection Accommodation Service transferred Gelashvili to the Baleseskin accommodation centre in August of 2016. In October, Gelashvili travelled back to Baleseskin from Dunne’s Supermarket and found a homophobic slur written boldly on his door. He reported the incident to management, who took no action. Days later, someone slid pornographic images of gay men under Gelashvili’s door, which implicated him in homosexuality. Other images included killings of homosexual men. Gelashvili found the images threatening. Gelashvili visited several asylum NGOs in Ireland and reported the incident. However, instead of investigating his concerns, they took no action.

Gelashvili vented to a Georgian man about his problem, one who never seemed to leave Balseskin. However, the older Georgian man accused Gelashvili of being homophobic. Gelashvili found this extremely odd. Through a confidential source, Gelashvili learned the older Georgian man was a diplomatic official behind each incident who had been sent to drive him back to Georgia.

Issue: Whether the treatment rises to the level of degrading treatment or punishment.

Rule: Article 3 of the Convention states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Analysis of Direct Provision Case Brief – Gelashvili vs. Ireland

Gelashvili believes his experience in direct provision is part of Georgia’s interdiction effort to drive him back to Tbilisi. Countries within the EU, such as Ireland, often take interdiction efforts to drive asylum seekers back to their home country. The EU has been especially active in establishing shared interdiction arrangements with Eastern European states to combat “irregular” migration by the establishment or intensification of exit control.[1] Countries may also engage in interdiction from within the territory of a cooperating state.[2] Indeed, ejections are often carried out by non-state actors with the encouragement or toleration of authorities.[3] When Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees fled to Guinea in late 2000, President Lansana Conté encouraged citizens to form militia groups to coerce refugees to “go home.”[4]

Nonetheless, any repatriation through coercive means is a breach of Art. 33 of the Refugee Convention. In MSS v. Belgium and Greece[5], the Belgian authorities engaged in coercive repatriation efforts to force the applicant back to Greece, where he lived in permanent fear of being attacked and robbed. He also submitted that his vulnerability and psychological deprivation in the State amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,[6] and the ECtHR agreed.

Contracting Parties have an obligation under Article 1 of the Convention, to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention. See Kasymakhunov v. Russia, where the ECtHR stated this obligation includes taking measures to ensure that individuals within their jurisdiction are not subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, including such ill treatment administered by private individuals.[7] In Kasymakhunov, the ECtHR held that the Russian authorities repatriation efforts violated its positive obligation to protect the applicant against the real and immediate risk of forcible transfer to Uzbekistan, including ill-treatment in the State.[8]

Conclusion: The ECtHR could find Ireland in violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of its coerced repatriation efforts, and its failure to protect Gelashvili against a real and imminent risk of ill-treatment in Georgia.


[1] Hathaway, J.C. (2021). The Right to Enter and Remain in an Asylum State. The Rights of Refugees under International Law. Cambridge University Press. p. 320.

[2] Id., p. 321.

[3] Id., p. 325.

[4] Id.

[5] MSS v. Belgium and Greece, Dec. No. 30696/09 (ECtHR, Jan. 21, 2011), at paras. 238-239

[6] Id.

[7] Kasymakhunov v. Russia, Dec. No. 29604/12 (ECtHR, Nov. 14, 2013), at para. 134.

[8] Id., paras. 137-141.

Mysterious Deaths in Direct Provision: Suicide or Murder?

Mysterious Deaths in Direct Provision: Suicide or Murder?

Mysterious Deaths in Ireland’s Direct Provision: Suicide or Murder?

Asylum seekers within Ireland’s direct provision institution have died under mysterious circumstances, with the coroner’s office ruling several of these cases death by suicide. In 2022, mainstream media published an article that revealed  four asylum seekers died by suicide, while the cause of death of other asylum seekers were unknown. It is not immediately clear whether these statistics include Thomas Stofiel and Muhammad Arif Ahrar, two asylum seekers who were housed in direct provision and, allegedly died by suicide. What is clear is: these deaths are indeed puzzling.

According to Malekmian, Arif was residing in the city of Monaghan in an emergency direct provision centre. Asylum seekers in that centre described Arif as an “intelligent and educated” man. While no scientific evidence shows a correlation between intelligence and levelheadedness, there seems to be an association between education and dissidence. If so, it may be the case that Arif fell under the class of dissident asylum seekers—those who are less likely to obey Milgramesque directives meted out by authority.

First, let’s consider the facts. Malekmian discovered that “those close to Arif were fearful of his mental health” and “urged him to go to the doctor” before his death. However, Abolish Direct Provision alleges that Arif had sent several e-mails to the International Protection Accommodation Service requesting to be transferred. If Arif had close connections to people in the Monaghan centre, how do you explain the copious requests for a transfer?

It could be that Arif’s request for a transfer was grounded on the idea that other cities offered better employment opportunities. A request to transfer in order to gain better access to employment is motive for life, is it not? Indeed, access to employment is undoubtedly an alibi for Arif, given employment is a requisite for most asylum seekers who have a responsibility to financially assist their families in their home countries. This raises another question: if Arif sought to assist his family back in Afghanistan, suicide would thwart this very goal, would it not?

Suicidal Disclaimer
Courtesy of Journey to the Center

Mysterious Deaths in Ireland’s Direct Provision: Suicide or Murder? If Murder, How Long Will They Get Away With It?

It may be that Arif’s transfer had little to do with employment and more to do with behaviour within the Monaghan centre itself. In Out of the Miqlaatun into the Fire, I describe the parlous state of encountering a post-Wahhabistic form of social control by so-called asylum morality police—a faction of male asylum seekers in Direct Provision, and how Islam was the driving force.

But Arif was Muslim, wasn’t he? Arif’s status as a Muslim is a plausible rebuttable to the phenomenon, in light of the fact that he would have obeyed the tenets of Islam. Building on this argument, it is quite possible that Arif would not have come to the attention of them. Further, research seems to indicate that “…asylum seekers may face unique risk factors for mental disorder before, during, and after their migration leading to suicidality.” While this may be true, the article cited asserts “the lack of early and thorough exploration of suicidal intent in this population requires large-scale quantitative studies to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of current practices in mental-health care and suicide prevention.” In other words, it is difficult to determine what may lead to an asylum seeker’s suicidality.

If research does not support the suicidal argument, could it be that we are all ignoring a common cause? Is it within the realm of possibility that another faction of asylum seekers like those mentioned in Out of the Miqlaatun into the Fire, bullied Arif to suicide? If we factor in Arif’s intelligence and education, and its connection with dissidence, are we looking at another protest psychosis incident? It is plausible that the political abuse of psychiatry, as experienced by my confidential source, may have variations to fit the individual profile of specific asylum applicants.

If so, does this point to intentional murder? The phases drafted in Dominant Woman were preliminary and mirrored the direct behaviour of men in direct provision. As far as we know, Arif was not a member of the LGBTQ community. If not LGBTQ, then it is unlikely male asylum seekers would have exposed Arif to similar phases. Moreover, Dominant Woman was silently condemned by several NGOs and politicians in Ireland, and lacked the imprimatur given to the asylum morality police. If the protest psychosis was the cause, and it has variations, how long will it be before they use it on someone else? Better yet, will it result in someone’s death?

Ireland's Activists Deportations Find Approval in Political Abuse Psychiatry

Ireland’s Activists Deportations Find Approval in Political Abuse Psychiatry

A years long investigation into the intimidation of particular asylum seekers in the direct provision system reveal Ireland’s Activists Deportations Find Approval in Political Abuse Psychiatry.

How We Investigated Ireland’s Activists Deportations Find Approval in Political Abuse Psychiatry

You feel like you’ve found your calling. Whether you received it in a dream; while gazing up at a billboard or, after consulting a high power in prayer—you have chosen this calling to give your life a deeper meaning. A sense of purpose. For many people across the world this calling is: activism. Activists often turn to ideological support—the good of grassroot movements—while standing their ground. Brow-beating, intimidation, profiling and arrests are the bad of activism when one speaks truth to power.  The question of security is undoubtedly the ugly and worrisome slice of politicking, especially when safety cannot be guaranteed. Indeed, the unsettling feeling of not being safe may compel one to flee their country. But will sanctuary find them in the country they land?

“Activism crept its way back up and now I am at it again,” says a confidential source residing in direct provision, who will be referred to as “John Doe.” “Even though I know who they are; I can point to the asylum seekers, no one will listen,” says Doe, who believes its his past social wrongs that have persuaded refugee advocate services and NGOs to ignore his plight. Doe claims authority have used asylum seekers to intimidate and to force him out of the international protection system. “I stand up for myself in protest and I am labelled chaotic. Called paranoid,” says Doe. If this sounds eerily familiar you’re not mistaken.

How Ireland’s Activists Deportations Find Approval in Political Abuse Psychiatry

The Irish Examiner published an article on an American asylum seeker named Thomas Stofiel, who mysteriously died in 2020. Imad, who the Irish Examiner interviewed, alleged that he had spoken to Stofiel. Imad also alleges Stofiel and another American asylum seeker had “the same problem, like mental.”

There is another source in Noel Barker’s article who reinforces the “mental” stereotype about American asylum seekers, “…if you are paranoid about the U.S., you are going to have real fear for your data being used by anyone, anywhere…” says the CEO of a refugee advocate service in Cork. There seems to be a trend, as the International Protection Tribunal archive reveals 2 other cases of American asylum seekers that were alleged to be overly suspicious of the government. Are their suspicions illegitimate or is it something else?

The Protest Psychosis
Courtesy of Journey to the Center

The CEO in the article gratuitously assesses the state of mind of American asylum seekers from afar, rather than exploring a third event that is defensibly the cause. In Torture and Psychiatric Abuse: Definition, Ethics, and Assessment, Ryan C.W. Hall and Richard C.W. Hall states psychiatric abuse may consist of an intentional misdiagnosis to discredit an individual, imprison them or, to cause their unemployment and loss of specific rights. An intentional misdiagnosis may also be to protect others (i.e., individuals in power). This quote appeared in Chapter 9 of Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry (2017, p. 846).

As early as the 1920s, governments have pilloried activism and political demonstrations as—not a rights issue—but a mental health issue. To illustrate this point, one need only refer to Aurora D’Angelo, who participated in a rally in support of Sacco and Vanzetti, and was sent to a mental health facility for psychiatric evaluation.

Jonathan M. Metzl calls this psychiatry abuse “protest psychosis.” In The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease (2011), Metzl draws a connection between the discriminatory perceptions of schizophrenia as a disease prone to Black men and women, and the continued pathologisation of them within systems that relies on language that has been shown to oppress.

Read More: 9 Americans Granted Refugee Status

U.S. officials’ harassment of activists on account of their political views have been widely documented over the years. In the 1950s, declassified documents revealed the FBI diagnosed Malcolm X with “pre-psychotic paranoid schizophrenia,” and “membership of the Communist Party.” Metzl contends in the early 1960s, the same agency diagnosed Robert Williams, the head of the North Carolina NAACP as having two minds—“armed, and dangerous during his flight from trumped-up kidnapping charges.” Doe unequivocally believes psychiatry from afar is being deployed in direct provision by “those in power” to undermine the claims of individuals fleeing countries Ireland perceives as safe.

Abuse of Psychiatry
Courtesy of Journey to the Center

A question often raised among proponents and dissidents in international refugee law is: who can be considered a refugee? Refugees with a nationality are defined by the UNHCR as a “person who is outside the country because they have—or had—a well-founded fear of persecution by reason of her race, political opinion, nationality or religion.” The individual may also be unable to avail themselves of the protection of the government because of fear. From examining the UNHCR’s definition, it appears that any person, including someone from a democracy can become a refugee.

The Eradication of the Principle of Confidentiality

When countries acquire information on an applicant’s country of origin, they are bound by the principle of confidentiality. In other words, they cannot disclose information regarding the applicant to the actors of persecution or serious harm. Yet, Doe believes officials are using a combination of its diplomatic relations and the protest psychosis to undermine his asylum claim. “Look at what they did to Edward Snowden,” says Doe.

Snowden applied for political asylum in 21 countries and asserted the U.S. administration and President Joe Biden had pressured governments to refuse his asylum petitions. Biden had also telephoned President Rafael Correa days prior to Snowden’s remarks, asking the Ecuadorian leader not to grant him asylum. France, Poland, Brazil, Germany and India were countries that also rejected Snowden’s application outright. The influence countries like the U.S. wields in the international arena underpins the position that Ireland is likely allowing its diplomatic relations to influence how it decides cases from applicants who have fled western countries.

How the Protest Psychosis is Being Used in Ireland to Undermine Asylum Claims

Doe reaffirms the susceptible followers of this protest psychosis are “asylum seekers” and that each can “be identified.” Art Padilla, the author of Leadership: Leaders, Followers, and Environments (2012), echoes the sentiment that susceptible followers either acquiesce without resistance or align themselves with toxic leaders.

From reviewing Doe’s statements and observations, the protest psychosis is clearly a strategy to intimidate asylum seekers who have fled democracies into “abandoning our asylum claim and voluntarily returning home,” says Doe confidently. Asylum seekers who are poor, worried, and living in fear of deportation seem to be much easier for authority to control and manipulate into undertaking its political abuse of psychiatry. Indeed, the fear of deportation is a persuasive and logical reason, as it explains how asylum seekers help toxic leaders establish the protest psychosis of those applicants Ireland wishes to reject.

When Protest Psychosis Conformers Turn Into Colluders

Doe further asserts “refugee advocate services” conform to the protest psychosis by remaining non-active. If the refugee agency confronts the wrongs happening to asylum applicants, as in Doe’s case, the toxic leaders are likely to withhold funding from the NGO.

Impressionable conformers, as stated by Padilla, may become colluders when they internalize a toxic leader’s vision by committing to their destructive enterprise. This is accomplished when NGOs assist toxic leaders in violating international refugee law. Financial incentives are another reason why NGOs may collude with destructive leaders in violating its positive and negative obligations under international law.

It is believed the asylum seekers who were—and may still be—involved in the implementation of the protest-psychosis-like scheme allegedly contributed to Stofiel’s death by engaging in these exploitative relations. “No one without power can do what they have done. Their support and encouragement are to advance their personal agendas,” says Doe.

It cannot be denied that NGOs, solicitors, media organisations and asylum seekers have beliefs consistent with the idea that individuals from democratic regimes have no legitimate reason for claiming asylum. This leads one to believe these conformers are assisting toxic leaders in diagnosing particular asylum seekers without an official psychiatric evaluation. When asked, “Who did you tell about this?” Doe said, “Everyone. They just said I’m paranoid.”

The overly suspicious phenomenon raises a broader question as to whether the International Protection Office or a country’s diplomatic servants, are appointing psychiatrists to unethically diagnose particular asylum seekers in direct provision for their justified remonstrances.

Martha Beall Mitchell, the wife of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, experienced the political abuse of psychiatry first hand. In the 1970s, a practitioner diagnosed Mitchell with a paranoid mental disorder after she claimed that the administration of President Richard M. Nixon was engaged in illegal activities. The “Martha Mitchell effect” was coined to describe mental health misdiagnoses when accurate claims are dismissed as delusional. Indeed, many of her claims were later proved correct.

Evidence further indicates an overemphasis of psychotic symptoms in marginalised groups, especially Black Americans, as compared with other racial or ethnic groups. This was revealed in a study that looked at 599 Blacks and 1,058 non-Latino whites. Clinicians failed to effectively weigh mood symptoms when diagnosing schizophrenia among Black Americans, suggesting that racial bias, whether conscious or subconscious, is one factor in the diagnosis of schizophrenia in this population. The study also supports extensive previous research done by Stephen Strakowski of Dell Medical School on how overemphasis of psychotic symptoms in Blacks can contribute to misdiagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, it is unethical to diagnose an individual from afar. The Goldwater Rule is a statement of ethics that enjoins psychiatrists from professionally diagnosing someone they have not personally evaluated. If the Goldwater Rule proscribes psychiatrists from diagnosing someone they have not personally evaluated, then it stands to reason that asylum seekers, who have no medical license, have no epistemic footing when it comes to psychiatric diagnoses.  Principle 3 of the Psychology Association of Ireland further states “psychologists are required to act in a trustworthy, reputable, and accountable manner towards clients and the community. They shall avoid doing harm to clients and research participants, and act to prevent harm caused by others. They shall ensure that those whom they supervise act ethically.”

A Freedom of Information request was emailed to the International Protection Office in September 2022. It gave no response. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland also issued no statement.

Comments regarding Ireland’s Activists Deportations Find Approval in Political Abuse Psychiatry should be addressed here.

Opinion: I Believe Trans Community Support is Disappearing for Black Trans Women

Opinion: I Believe Trans Community Support is Disappearing for Black Trans Women

Opinion: I Believe Trans Community Support is Disappearing for Black Trans Women

Is trans community support disappearing? While it may appear that there is adequate support, it is my contention that LGBTQ+ positional power figures are not doing enough to advocate for trans people.

Transphobic behaviour and reactions to trans women is a clear indicator of marginalisation. These behaviors and reactions disempowers and oppresses them. It also intimidates them with values and decisions not of their own choosing. Take, for example, a trans woman who reports harassment to an LBGTQ+ advocate service, only to discover the service does not give her testimony epistemic weight. 

Testimonial Injustice

The failure to afford proper epistemic weight to her testimony appears in a variety of forms. Testimonial injustice is the most common. One example of testimonial injustice is when positional power figures disbelieve that trans women are being victimised, especially Black trans women. One reason for this is that Black trans women have a low societal position in the hierarchy. This leads one to believe that trans women will be further victimised or, experience what I call The Zaru Effect 

The word ‘zaru’ comes from the Three Exemplary MonkeysMizaru, who sees no evil, covers his eyes. Kikazaru, who hears no evil, covers his ears; and Iwazaru, who speaks no evil, covers his mouth. See no evil and speak no evil are integral to the discussion, as positional power figures ignore and fail to speak up for trans people. In other words, they allow legal and moral wrongs to oppress trans people. Hear no evil is also vital, given the deafness of some advocate services and how they mishear harm. But according to Rachel McKinnon, trans victims are epistemically situated to perceive events properly. If so, positional power figures within the LGBTQ+ community should do more to advocate for them.  

To be sure, the Williams Institute found transgender persons of color, especially Black trans women, reported higher rates of police abuse.

Story of transwoman assaulted by police
Courtesy of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
The Disappearance of Trans Community Support
Courtesy of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
The Disappearance of Trans Community Support
Courtesy of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence

Is Trans Community Support Disappearing for Black Trans Women? If so, Can Anything Be Done?

Philosopher Talia Bettcher asserts positional power figures have a moral responsibility that consist of giving disadvantaged identities first person authority. In the Explanation of First Person Authority, Bernhard Thöle argues there is a presumption that present tense self-ascriptions of mental states are not mistaken.  Thöle further states while it is possible for others to discredit self-ascriptions, this cannot happen generally because the speaker is not mistaken when she sincerely self-ascribes mental states of a certain class. In other words, trans women are on a better epistemic footing to judge when others harm them. If so, then it follows that positional power figures should do more to advocate for them.

When LGBTQ+ organizations fail to speak up for trans women, the LGBTQ+ community is fractured by distrust. It also loses of critical source of moral and epistemic support within their own community. 

The disappearing act shows internal members and external groups that community is all but an illusion. A real showing of community is when positional power figures hold space for trans people. That’s when the real magic occurs. 

Skip to content