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Dr Cathryn Costello writes for The Irish Times on the role of Ireland's judiciary in assessing asylum seekers' claims

In a recent piece, this paper reported the comments of Mr Justice Gerard Hogan at the European Database of Asylum Law Conference, to which I also contributed (January 20th, 2014). The short report does not do justice to the extent or subtlety of Judge Hogan’s comments. It should prompt reflection on the vital role of the judiciary in safeguarding migrant and refugee rights. If anything, in Ireland we ask too much of judges, leaving them to deal with issues that should be resolved politically, through legislation and good administration.

Assessing asylum claims properly matters a great deal – lives hang in the balance. Both the asylum seekers’ story and the country of origin conditions must be assessed. Ireland is not alone in this, and there is a wealth of guidance on how to do reliable status determination.

Certainly, the complexities involved do not justify procedures that drag on for years. A recent report shows overwhelming evidence that assessing credibility in asylum processing goes awry, leading to strong claims being rejected necessitating appeals and legal challenges. Granting swift positive decisions to those in need of international protection is in everyone’s interests, not least those of refugees.

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