Refugee Law

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Non-refoulement During a Health Emergency

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus worldwide has sparked continuous scientific debates about the impact of the health emergency and its legal implications. In an attempt to expand this growing debate, this short post aims to shed some light on the impact this emergency is having on asylum seekers and, therefore, to examine the possible tensions vis-à-vis the application of the principle of non-refoulement. These tensions are in particular raised by the emergency measures adopted by a number of States, in Europe and beyond, resulting in the closure of their borders. The pressing question that will be addressed here is whether health emergencies, such as the one caused by COVID-19, can affect the scope of States’ obligations stemming from the principle of non-refoulement, namely access to an effective asylum procedure and to other fundamental rights, including access to primary to healthcare. Border closures and the right to seek asylum While the pandemic continues to take its toll, States have progressively adopted restrictive measures to limit free movement within their territories…

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M.N. and Others v Belgium: no ECHR protection from refoulement by issuing visas

 With its inadmissibility decision in M.N. and Others v Belgium delivered on 5 May 2020, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR made it clear that individuals who apply for visas at embassies with the intention to seek protection, do not fall within the jurisdiction of the ECHR State Parties in the sense of Article 1 ECHR. As…

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Covid-19: Italy is not a “place of safety” anymore. Is the decision to close Italian ports compliant with human rights obligations?

The Inter-ministerial Decree n. 150 of 7 April 2020 of the Italian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, in agreement with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Health, has established that: For the entire period of health emergency resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Italian ports will lack the necessary requirements to…

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Statelessness is back (not that it ever went away…)

Citizenship deprivation and statelessness are very much back in fashion. States increasingly resort to such measures to deal with those returning from foreign wars, or as a sanction for those otherwise deemed undesirable and unwanted – it must certainly seem easier than living up to their obligations actually to combat terrorist activities or war crimes or crimes against…

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An Unforeseen Pandora’s Box? Absolute Non-Refoulement Obligations under Article 5 of the ILC Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity

Introduction In 2013, the International Law Commission (ILC) added to its long-term work programme the topic of a convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity. This proposed convention is meant to join sibling conventions addressing genocide and war crimes and would stand in the tradition of other conventions addressing serious crimes, such as…

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