Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A New Refoulement Decision from the European Court of Human Rights

A Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the United Kingdom cannot deport two Somali nationals who have committed serious crimes in Britain because of the generally insecure conditions in Somalia: Sufi and Elmi v. United Kingdom. They said this met the 'real risk' threshold for a violation of articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is a development of a line of cases on the subject of refoulement, in that it is not based upon the danger of torture or other ill treatment being inflicted by the State itself so much as the general situation of lawlessness and violence prevailing in the country. Citing a range of reports, from the United Nations, the US Department of State and various international NGOs, the Court said:

248. The Court considers that the large quantity of objective information overwhelmingly indicates that the level of violence in Mogadishu is of sufficient intensity to pose a real risk of treatment reaching the Article 3 threshold to anyone in the capital. In reaching this conclusion the Court has had regard to the indiscriminate bombardments and military offensives carried out by all parties to the conflict, the unacceptable number of civilian casualties, the substantial number of persons displaced within and from the city, and the unpredictable and widespread nature of the conflict.
The Court considered the option that the applicants might relocate elsewhere in Somalia, or that they might find sanctuary in a camp for Internally Displaced Persons. It ruled out these options because of the associated dangers.
Congratulations to Nuala Mole, who argued the case.

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