Algeria and Botswana to be designated as safe countries of origin

Algeria and Botswana to be designated as safe countries of origin

Algeria and Botswana will be designated as safe countries of origin for the purpose of asylum claims from tomorrow, justice minister Helen McEntee has announced.

While people from safe countries are still entitled to apply for international protection and have their application considered thoroughly, they will have to submit serious grounds that the country is not safe in terms of their personal circumstances.

Under an accelerated decision-making process introduced in November 2022, applicants from safe countries are currently receiving decisions in less than 90 days.

The existing list of safe countries includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and South Africa.

Mrs McEntee said: “My priority is that those who are in need of international protection receive it quickly, and those who are not entitled to it are removed from the system quickly too. This is the hallmark of a robust and rules based immigration system.

“Given the difference the accelerated procedure I introduced in late 2022 has had already, I do expect the addition of Botswana and Algeria to have an immediate impact.

“Cases from those countries designated as safe are currently receiving a decision in less than 10 weeks and applications from people from those countries are down by 38 per cent.

“I must emphasise however that an application by a person from a safe country still receives a full consideration on its merit by the International Protection Office. We have seen that in the current list of safe countries, there are still grants in cases where people can show that their personal circumstances mean that their country is not safe for them.”

Separately, a new expedited process will be introduced for asylum applicants who have already been granted protection in another EU country.

The measures are aimed at speeding up processing times for international protection claims. The number of applications processed by the International Protection Office almost doubled in 2023 compared to 2022 and is expected to increase further in 2024.

There were over 1,000 monthly determinations by November 2023 and the IPO is expected to deliver at least 14,000 decisions in 2024, an increase of 5,000 cases.

Mrs McEntee said: “The international protection system currently undergoing a significant modernisation programme to ensure it is agile, robust and fully resourced to meet the unprecedented increase in applications in recent years.

“Investments to date have significantly improved processing times. Most impressively, there has been a doubling of decisions made in 2023 from the year before. Over the course of 2024 we aim to even further increase capacity and processing times.

“This is all with the aim of ensuring that those who have a right to international protection are given that status as quickly as possible, whilst those who are found to not have that right are removed from the system as quickly as possible too.”

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