1730 Albanians were denied entry to Ireland in 2019, making it the number one nationality refused entry to the country.
Other countries in the top 10 most refused include Brazil, South Africa, Bolivia, Georgia, China, he US, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and India. Albania had over 1000 more refusals than the second position, Brazil with 720.
Ireland classifies Albania as a safe country of origin meaning that individuals coming from there do not need protection. This is despite a growing number of asylum and refugee applications with reasons including political persecution and blood feuds.
Figures from the Irish authorities tripled during 2019.
Ireland also detained a number of Albanians for immigration offences. Again, Albanians were at the top of the list with the most citizens detained.
Concerns have been raised over conditions in prisons as men and women are accommodated in crowded prisons where cell sharing is the norm. The lack of access to legal representation and the ability to lodge an appeal was also highlighted.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Albanian citizens were being illegally deported before they were able to request asylum. Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flannagan admitted that immigration checks were moved to the steps of the plane instead of passport control. This meant that Albanians were being sent back immediately without an opportunity to lodge a claim.
The policy is a violation of refugee law, European Human Rights law and EU law, all of which Ireland is bound to.
The principle of non-refoulment which presents in both refugee law and human rights law means that an individual has the right not to be sent back to a country where they are at risk of irreparable harm. The European Court of Human Rights states that this requires “rigorous risk assessment”.
Human rights law also states that the collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited. This means that each individual entering the country must be assessed on the legality of their presence, even those that have been denied entrance to the state. These rights are afforded under Section 15 of the International Protection Act 2015 under national law and apply even if the individual is coming from a “safe country of origin” such as Albania.
The law also recognises that those seeking safety may be forced to travel on false documents.
It is worth noting that coming from a safe country of origin does not preclude an individual from claiming asylum and requires that the relevant state carries out an individual examination of the application to ensure that the country is safe for that person. This is not the case with this policy in Ireland.