State wants time to consider 'complex issues' raised in action brought by son of alleged ISIS fighter

State wants time to consider 'complex issues' raised in action brought by son of alleged ISIS fighter

The State is expected to oppose an application by an Irish-born seven-year-old boy currently in Belarus with his mother, to have his passport renewed.

The case, by Abdul Malik Bekmirzaev, is deemed to be a complex one by lawyers acting for the State due to issues including the 2010 naturalisation of the boy's father Alexandr Bekmirzaev, who it is alleged went to fight in Syria for ISIS.

The boy and his mother, Iryna Paltarzhytskaya, were deported to Belarus from a refugee camp Turkey in January.

They want to return to Ireland over their concerns about the Belarus government's poor response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An application to have Abdul's passport renewed was made in February, but no decision has been made, resulting in the bringing of proceedings against the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Justice before the High Court.

The action came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan when Frank Callanan SC, for the respondent Ministers, said his side needed time to take instructions on the complex issues raised.

Counsel said there was an issue over the naturalisation of the boy's father, who he added is thought to be in Syria.

The boy, represented by Michael Lynn SC, instructed by solicitor Wendy Lyon, claims that the passport was being withheld because the Minister for Justice intends to revoke Alexandr Bekmirzaev's Irish citizenship

This, they claim, is because the Dept of Justice believes a 2001 marriage by Mr Bekmirzaev to a woman believed to be a British national, was one of convenience.

It was on foot of that marriage which enabled Mr Bekmirzaev to remain in Ireland and ultimately obtain Irish citizenship in 2010.

That first marriage was dissolved in early 2010, and later that year the boy's parents were married in a ceremony in Belarus.

After hearing submissions from the sides the judge, who said he was prepared to facilitate an early hearing of the dispute, adjourned the case to a date next month.

The court heard that Alexandr Bekmirzaev, who converted in Islam in the 1990s, came to Ireland from Belarus in 1999.

He departed for ISIS-controlled Syria to allegedly fight for ISIS shortly after his son's birth in April 2013.

The family reunited in Syria in 2014 where they lived together, until the ISIS 'caliphate' was defeated in 2018.

The family was split up. Mr Bekmiraev was imprisoned following his capture by Kurdish soldiers, and his son and wife were moved to various camps, before being deported to Belarus.

His wife and son say they have not heard from Mr Bekmirzaev for some time and fear he may be dead.

They want to return to Ireland because of the Belarusian government's response to the Covid-19, Mr Lynn said Belarus was an "authoritarian state" that was "in denial" over the pandemic.

In February, an application to have the boy's Irish passport, which was confiscated by the Turkish authorities, renewed was made.

No decision has been made by the Minister, which resulted in lawyers acting on his behalf bringing judicial review proceedings.

It is claimed the exceptional delay in making the decision to renew his passport has endangered the boy's health and well-being.

It is also claimed the boy's rights and benefits of Irish citizenship are also being interfered with and that he is being severely prejudiced by the ongoing delay.

The boy seeks orders requiring the Minister for Foreign Affairs to issue the boy with a new Irish passport, or that the Minister make a determination in relation to the application.

He further seeks declarations including that the Minister for Foreign Affairs' delay in making a decision in relation to the application to renew the passport is unreasonable.

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