Ireland - SWA v Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors, 30 January 2017

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
SWA v Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors [2017] IEHC 40
Additional Citation:
2016 377 JR
Court Name:
The High Court O’ Regan J.
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This case concerned a judicial review challenge of a Refugee Appeals Tribunal decision where the Court held that there must be a thorough analysis as to the forward looking fear of a person being returned to Pakistan on account of their religion.


This case concerned a judicial review challenge of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT decision) in that the applicant claimed that the Tribunal erred in law in failing to consider whether the applicant may be exposed to persecution on his return to Pakistan by reason of his religion. The applicant is from Pakistan and claimed asylum in Ireland in October 2013. He was refused by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner which was affirmed by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal decision acknowledged that the applicant was a Shia Muslim, and the core of the applicant’s claim was on the basis of being fearful of persecution in Pakistan because of his religion. However, the Tribunal did not examine any further the applicant’s religion and instead found that the applicant was deliberately unhelpful and uncooperative and accordingly ‘the appellant has not established to the satisfaction of the Tribunal that he has any forward looking well-founded fear of persecution in Pakistan’.   

Decision & Reasoning: 

The applicant submitted to the Court that the analysis as to the well-founded fear by the Tribunal was not an analysis at all or if considered one was so wholly insufficient and/or inadequate and/or unreasonable. The respondent submitted that if the applicant’s credibility was not accepted then in some cases, the fact of past events not being believed will relieve the administrative decision maker of the obligation to consider a risk of future persecution. This was accepted by O Regan J.

O Regan J stated that though there was a clear finding as to the applicant’s nationality in the Tribunal decision, the status as to the applicant’s religion was somewhat more difficult. This is relevant in the context of a forward looking fear of persecution. O Regan J went on to state that “In all of the circumstances it appears to me that given the acceptance that the applicant is a Pakistan national and given the ambiguity as to the applicant’s religion within the decision impugned then in the words of Cooke J. it appears to me that there is some element of the applicant’s story which can be accepted as possibly being true (his religion) and therefore his claimed Shia Muslim status deserved further consideration in respect of the forward looking test of a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to Pakistan.”


The applicant was granted an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the Tribunal. 


This case illustrates that Tribunal members must conduct a thorough analysis of any facts presented when examining the forward looking aspect of refugee status and subsidiary protection. 

Case Law Cited: 

Ireland - A(R) v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors. [2015] IEHC 686

Ireland - MMA v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors (Unreported, High Court, MacEochaidh J., 13th February 2013)

Ireland - High Court, A(MAM) v Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors, [2011] IEHC 147