Tag Archive: Asylum


European Court of Justice Grants Asylum Rights to Persecuted Homosexuals

Countries that criminally prosecute homosexual behavior have received a ruling from the European Court of Justice that the European Union will protect individuals fleeing from those countries. A ruling concerning homosexual nationals from Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Senegal have reassured any individual fearful of prosecution because of his/her sexual orientation can seek asylum in the European Union.

The European Court of Justice’s ruling  explained that Directive 2004/83/ECwhich maintains the minimum standards for a person to be considered a refugee and references the Geneva Convention, applies to any homosexual who is persecuted in his/her country. The Directive states a refugee is a person 

owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

The Netherland’s Supreme Court requested  that the European Court of Justice give a preliminary ruling to clarify whether homosexuals were included in the definition of the phrase “membership of a particular social group.”  The Netherland’s Supreme Court also requested that the European Court of Justice clarify which type of appeal might fall within a receiving host government’s classification of a person as a refugee. 

 The Court’s ruling sets out that a person’s sexual orientation is a trait that is fundamental to the identity of an individual and no one should be required to renounce such an important part of himself/herself.  Explaining that since these criminal statutes target homosexual behavior this supports a finding that homosexuals form a separate group within the definition of a refugee from the Directive

The Court next explained that being a part of that group alone does not secure refugee status if the persecuting country has laws against homosexual behavior without a showing of a serious violation of a human right. Essentially warning potential applicants that not all violations of a right of a homosexual can reach the threshold to be granted asylum in the European Union. Specifically, the press release from the European Court of Justice states

the mere existence of legislation criminalising homosexual acts cannot be regarded as an act affecting the applicant in a manner so significant that it reaches the level of seriousness necessary for a finding that it constitutes persecution within the meaning of the directive. However, a term of imprisonment which accompanies a legislative provision which punishes homosexual acts may constitute an act of persecution per se.

This ruling clarifies the policy in the European Union for granting and denying asylum for any homosexual from his/her country while also ensuring that all of the Member States follow these basic standards.

 

Britain retracts threat to seize Assange

In a turn of events, Ecuador’s government officially received a statement from the UK government that the British officers will not enter the Ecuador embassy in London to seize Julian Assange.

Julian Assange was born on July 3, 1971, in Australia. Assange was born with a genius IQ and spent his childhood traveling with his parents. Assange’s knack for computers began around age sixteen. Since then, Assagne has charged with thirty plus counts of hacking in Australia including breaking into the master terminal for Nortel. Assange studied mathematics and the University of Melbourne, but he dropped out. Assange is internationally known for his creation of Wikileaks, which was launched in Sweden in 2007. In 2010, Assange became under investigation for a sexual assault case in Sweden. Assagne turned himself into London police after Sweden issued a European Arrest Warrant. Assange is still on conditional bail.

WikiLeaks is a website used to collect and distribute confidential information. It is a non-profit site run by volunteers. It is used to oust the wrongdoings of governments and corporations. For example, Wikileaks released a U.S. military manual that included information on the Guantanamo detention center and it shared emails from Sarah Palin in September 2008.

Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning about sexual assault and rape allegations. Ecuador gave asylum, protection from danger, to Assange and he has been in the Ecuador embassy for over two (2) months.

Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador, and the Ecuador government was enraged after the UK threatened to remove Assange from the Ecuador embassy, a while back, and Correa labeled Britain’s threat as a “grave diplomatic error”. Correa warned that the UK’s threat could set a dangerous precedent. The UK said that it threatened to forcefully enter the Ecuador embassy because it was legally inclined to extradite Assange to Sweden.

The Ecuador government said that it is not trying to help Assange avoid justice. With written guarantees from the UK and Sweden that Assange will not be extradited to a third world country, Ecuador said that Assange would turn himself over to the UK.

Assange and Correa fear that if Assange is handed over to Sweden he would then be extradited to the United States to face WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of secret US cables charges. But, the U.S. has not issued any charges against Assange and do not plan to extradite him.

The UK’s retracted threat is a step toward a better political relationship between Ecuador and the UK. “The latest move should improve relations between Quito and London and allow more talks on Assange’s fate to take place,” said a Rueters’ reporter while in Quito. More discussions on Assange’s fate are expected to follow the retraction. The British Foreign Office said, “We believe that our two countries should be able to find a diplomatic solution.” The retracted threat will hopefully create a more peaceful and amicable relationship between Ecuador and the UK. In return, other countries, especially The U.S. and Sweden, will not be forced to choose sides, which will keep international peace. Extradition laws between countries are based on treaties between nations. The UK has repeatedly related that it has a legal duty to return Assange to Sweden. The UK not returning Assange in a reasonable time period may affect Britain and Sweden’s relationship. But, the UK and Ecuador officials are still trying to compromise.

Sweden has not officially charged Assange. Sweden needs Assange for questioning. Sweden issued an European Arrest Warrant, which once issued, requires a member state to arrest a suspect a send the suspect to the ember state that issued the warrant. All member states of the EU are required to respond to a European Arrest Warrant. Ecuador gave asylum to Assange in August, 2012. While it is lawful for Sweden officials to question Assange in the UK and Assange agreed to it, Sweden officials said that in this case they need to question Assange in Sweden. “”The preliminary investigation is at an advanced stage and I consider that is necessary to interrogate Assange, in person, regarding the evidence in respect of the serious allegations made against him,” Swedish Director of Prosecutions Marianne Ny wrote. If Assange is extradited he will be detained once he enters Sweden.

As of now, Assange is still holed up in the Ecuador embassy, which is surrounded by British police. At the right moment the UK will send Assange to Sweden.

The Organization of American States criticized Britain’s threat, and South American foreign ministers strongly backed Correa.

 

 




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