540. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if, in the context of determination of eligibility for refugee / asylum status, due cognisance is given to the circumstances prevailing in the applicant's homeland, with particular reference to trafficking in women and children; if the language used in individual cases might be changed to the applicant's state, as opposed to the applicant claims, the latter indicating disbelief, with possible prejudicial impact on the case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20840/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): All applications for refugee status are processed by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) in accordance with the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended).
I am informed by the Commissioner that each application is decided on its own individual merits and the elements considered during the determination process include: the facts and circumstances of the application (including any trafficking allegations); the protection available to the applicant in his/her country of origin; internal protection options available to the applicant elsewhere in their country of origin; whether the fears of the applicant amount to persecution; the reasons for the alleged persecution; and their fear of return in relation to their country of origin.
All asylum applicants are interviewed in accordance with the statutory procedures set out in the Refugee Act 1996. Interviewers are trained to conduct focused interviews which afford applicants the opportunity to fully explain the reasons why they fear returning to their country of origin. As part of the investigation process, the interviewer researches objective country of origin information that will inform the analysis of the application. This work is essential for researching the political and human rights situations in an applicant's country of origin.
In relation to trafficking specifically, caseworkers have received anti human trafficking training as part of their comprehensive training programme. ORAC also has a referral procedure in place with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) and the Anti Human Trafficking Unit of my Department for investigating any possible trafficking cases. ORAC will also request GNIB at regular periods to provide updates/results on any trafficking cases referred to them as such information may be of relevance if the investigation of an asylum application is still ongoing. Where allegations of trafficking have been raised by an asylum applicant, these claims will be assessed by the caseworker in line with usual tests regarding the balance of probabilities for credibility and the reasonable likelihood of a well founded fear of persecution.
It is not proposed to change the wording used in protection determination recommendations as this is in line with statutory obligations.