The right not to hold any belief is fundamental, says Supreme Court

RT (Zimbabwe) and others (Respondents) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] UKSC 38 – read judgment

It is no answer to a refugee claim to say that the individual concerned should avoid persecution by lying and feigning loyalty to a regime which he does not support.

So the Supreme Court has ruled today, considering the relevance to political beliefs of the so-called “HJ(Iran) principle” which was formulated in a case where it was held that it was no answer to an asylum claim by a gay man that he should conceal his sexual identity in order to avoid the persecution that would follow if he did not do so. Continue reading

Does a Zimbabwe farm invader get refugee status?

SK (Zimbabwe) v Secretary of State for the Home Office 19 June 2012 – read judgment

This case raises the interesting question whether someone who was involved as a member of the ruling Zimbabwe Zanu PF party with farm invasions can be eligible for refugee status. The answer is a definite no: the High Court held that the Upper Tribunal had been entirely correct in finding that  a Zimbabwean national, who had beaten farm workers in farm invasions intended to drive farmers and farm workers away from their farms, had committed inhumane acts amounting to crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute art.7(1)(k) and therefore by virtue of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 (United Nations) art.1F(a) was excluded from refugee status. Continue reading

Italy lose in Europe over asylum seeker boat interception – Henry Oliver

Hirsi Jamaar and Others v. Italy (Application no. 27765/09) – Read judgment

The European Court of Human Rights has held that a group of Somalian and Eritrean nationals who were intercepted by Italian Customs boats and returned to Libya fell within the jurisdiction of Italy for the purposes of Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights . The return involved a violation of Article 3 (Anti-torture and inhumane treatment), Article 4 of Protocol 4 (collective expulsion of aliens), and  Article 13 (right to an effective remedy). The patrols that returned migrants to Libya were in breach of the non-refoulement principle.

The applicants were eleven Somalian nationals and thirteen Eritrean nationals who were part of a group of two hundred migrants who left Libya in order to reach the Italian coast. On 6th May 2009 Italian ships intercepted them 35 miles south of Lampedusa and returned them to Triploi, in Libya. During the voyage the migrants were not told where they were going (they assumed they were being taken to Italy), nor were they identified.

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