44 February/March 2024 February/March 2024 45
Dublin Convention
and Regulation III, on
asylum-seekers
In May 2023, an article by Matt
Treacy in Gript asserted the basic
principle, about the Dublin
Convention and Regulations as
outlined “by Minister Simon Harris,
is that a person seeking asylum
ought to make an application and
have that application processed in
the first member state that allows
them to enter.
Like a lot of Gript stuff it is
clueless. Gript made waves on 10
January 2024 pointing out that Leo
Varadkar had this basic principle
wrong in 2019. On and on its Deputy
News Editor, Ben Scallan, went
about this. But it did not point out
that it appears to have made the
same assumption itself consistently.
Leo Varadkar then did a service by
pointing out the error in
interpretations like these. Under
pressure at a press conference from
the same Mr Scallan on 6 January,
Varadkar said errors like the ones
Gript purveys were disinformation
by the hard right.
In fact the errors seem to be
pervasive not just on the right.
No matter. The reality is the Dublin
Regulation III provides that:
The criteria for establishing
responsibility for examination
of the asylum application are,
in hierarchical order:
family considerations,
recent possession of visa or
residence permit in a
Member State and
whether the applicant has
entered the EU irregularly, or
regularly.
Crucially, only where the superior
criteria do not apply does the Dublin
Regulation III require that the first EU
member state where an international
protection application is made must
handle the claim.
It is crucial to note that the country
handling the claim is not necessarily
the country in which asylum is
decided.
There is no obligation on asylum-
seekers to make an application in
the first Dublin Regulations country
they arrive in, but when they do
apply in that or any Dublin
Regulation country, that first country
is obliged to decide the claim.
There is no legal prohibition on
even economic migrants from
making applications for
international protection in Dublin
Regulations countries that were not
where they made their first
application – it is just that they can
expect to have their cases sent to
the Dublin Regulations country
where the first application was
made.
All countries have a legal
obligation under the Dublin III
Regulation to handle all applications
for international protection initially
even if it is just to make a
determination to remit the case for a
decision in the country where the
first application is made.
It states at Article 3.1: “Member
States shall examine [meaning
decide] any application for
international protection by a third-
country national or a stateless
person who applies on the territory
of any one of them, including at the
border or in the transit zones. The
application shall be examined by a
single Member State, which shall be
the one which the criteria set out in
Chapter III indicate is responsible.
Nothing more. The emphasis is on
decision by a single Member State.
On 9 February Ben Scallan
interviewed Dr Mehari Fisseha, a
man with a PhD in Migration Studies
and several other related fields, who
said:
“Leo Varadkar, in my view, should
get better advice...He
misunderstood what the Dublin
Convention is all about” and “about
Irelands asylum system the first
point of country is the place where
he should seek asylum. Thats what
it means, the Dublin Convention.
And then when you seek asylum in
those first-point-of-entry countries
your fingerprints and identities
should be taken so they can be
stored in the Eurodac form in
Luxembourg”. He’s utterly wrong.
He fails to recognise that a country
handling the claim is very dierent
from being the country in which
asylum is sought. And fingerprinting
is an obligation for the country
which first receives an application
and not the country whose border
with a non Dublin Regulations
frontline” country the applicant
first crossed.
The Dublin Regulation places
obligations on states not on asylum-
seekers. Gript doesn’t understand or
care. Less still does Dr Mehari
Fisseha, a most elusive scholar,
despite having two PhDs and eight
masters degrees, Mind you, its not
just Gript. As recently as 1 February,
Senan Moloney was mis-asserting
in the Irish Independent that the
Dublin Convention: “specified that a
person presenting in one country
could be returned for processing –
and likely expulsion – to the state
where they first arrived in the EU”.
Moloney confuses the country of
first application with the frontline
country (of first entry).
If an asylum-seeker arrives in
Ireland having first landed in
another Dublin Regulations country
it is a myth that Ireland somehow
doesn’t have to handle the
application. It must handle it. Its
just that it doesn’t have to decide it.
That’s all.
The Department of Justice
confirms all this:
The objective of the Dublin III
Regulation is to ensure an applicant
Gript (and others):
at se on Dublin
A recent intervention by Leo Varadkar was
salutary in highlighting the implications of
the Dublin Convention and Regulations for
the treatment of asylum-seekers
Gript’s grlnded ‘expert’ gets it horribly wrong on the Dublin Convention