Supreme Court Rules in ‘Right to Die’ Case

The Supreme Court has recently ruled in a high profile 'Right to Die' case. The case involved a retired lecturer, Marie Fleming, who is terminally ill due to multiple sclerosis. The Court ruled that while suicide is no longer a criminal offence in Ireland, that did not mean that a Constitutional right to take one's own life existed. It further stated thet Ms Fleming did not have the right to assisted sucide under the pricnipal of equal treatment. Ms Fleming was appealing a High Court decision which refused to grant orders which would alow somone to lawfully help her die at a time of her choosing.

Change in procedure regarding return first country of entry

In a recent judgement of the ECJ it was decided that an asylum seeker may not be sent back to the first EU member state he landed in from outside the EU if he risks being subjected to inhuman treatment there.

This means asylum seekers in Ireland who landed in another country first may not be sent back to the first country if they risk suffering inhumane treatment there.

Under the current regime the state in which the asylum seeker first arrived was considered responsible for dealing with their asylum application. This was known as the "Dublin II" regulation.

The ECJ ruled that Belgium should not have sent an person back to Greece where he had already been mistreated during the asylum process, as Greece was unable to guarantee that his human rights would not be infringed.

In a subsequent hearing, the court was asked by the UK and Ireland to rule on two cases where asylum seekers had arrived from Greece and had objected to being sent back to Greece on the basis that the asylum regime in Greece was inadequate with regards to its human rights protections.

In the Irish case a number of applicants, each of which originated fro different countries. They all initially arrived in Greece where they travelled on to Ireland where they claimed asylum. They resisted their return to Greece and claimed the procedures for asylum seekers there were inadequate.

In the UK case, an asylum seeker had been arrested in Greece before making an asylum application and removed to Turkey, where he was held in in conditions which were such that his human rights were breached. He escaped from detention in Turkey and travelled to the United Kingdom where he claimed asylum.

The Irish and English Courts asked the ECJ whether the State should verify that the receiving State (in this case Greece) will uphold the applicant's fundamental human rights. If the State finds that these rights will not be protected, the Courts asked should the State then assume responsibility of the asylum seeker's application?

The judgement stated that States may no longer assume that fundamental rights will be upheld by the State of first entry.

Zambrano Case

Many non-EU parents of Irish-citizen children have been granted residency in Ireland since a landmark European court judgment last year.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled last March that the non-EU parents of EU-citizen children must be allowed to live and work in that EU state. this judgment is known as the 'Zambrano Case'

Following the European ruling some people have been allowed to re-enter the state after receiving a deportation order.

According to the department of Justice at least 20 Irish citizen children have left the State in the company of their parents as a result of deportations since 2005.

The Zambrano Case is so called as it is the the surname of a Colombian couple who brought the case to the European court. The judgment stated that the non-EU parents of EU citizen children must be allowed to live and work in that EU State.

The Zambrano Case does not affect the criteria of eligibility for Irish citizenship, including the changes following the 2005 citizenship referendum. Since this referendum, a child born within the State was entitled to Irish citizenship only of one of the parents has lawfully resided within the State for at least three of the previous four years and that person is not within the state as a student or a person seeking asylum.