How to Sink a Boat: A Legal Analysis of the Right to Seek Asylum

European Union, July 12, 2015

In a surprisingly bold move, the European Union (E.U.) recently asked the United Nations to green light the use of force against boats containing “smuggled” immigrants on the Mediterranean Sea. This disturbing news has been met with a wave of protest from advocates and scholars alike, who deplore the E.U.’s plan because it denies these immigrants their fundamental rights. Many have been left wondering, what is the legal basis for the E.U.’s actions? And could the United Nations conceivably approve such a plan?

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Refugee Protection for Homeschoolers? Congressional Efforts to Amend the Refugee Definition and Restrict Protection for Central American Refugees

United States, June 1, 2015

The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee recently passed H.R.1153, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2015 (“the ARBP Act”), a bill that restricts immigration to the United States, except for families fleeing persecution because they homeschool their children. This article discusses the ways in which the proposed Act is in direct contravention with U.S. domestic and international obligations and argues Congress should instead invest in the asylum officer corps and immigration court system to provide adjudicators with the resources and support they need to reach reasoned and fair decisions.

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The Michigan Guidelines on Risk for Reasons of Political Opinion

May 12, 2015

The University of Michigan Program in Refugee and Asylum Law hosts the bi-annual Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law, which brings leading academic experts and practitioners from around the world to Ann Arbor to work with students and identify a strategy for confronting a cutting-edge problem in refugee protection. The purpose of the Colloquium is to tackle one difficult issue via preparatory study and a three-day debate and policy formulation meeting, thus producing the Michigan Guidelines on that particular issue. The 2015 Michigan Guidelines take up how best to interpret “political opinion” in a manner that ensures both fidelity to international law and the continuing vitality of the Convention.

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Vulnerability, the Right to Asylum and the Dublin System

European Union, April 14, 2015

Recent jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights has called into question the compatibility of the Dublin system with the rights of inherently vulnerable individuals, in particular children seeking asylum.

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Of Shepherds and Sheepdogs – Andre Lawrence Shepherd v. Bundesrepublik Deutschland before the Court of Justice of the European Union

Germany, March 9, 2015

An American citizen applied for asylum in Germany on the basis of Article 9(2)(e) of the Qualification Directive (QD). He refused to continue working in the US armed forces serving in Iraq, claiming his continued participation would lead to the commission of war crimes. The referring court stayed proceedings and asked the CJEU to help interpret the act of persecution contained in Article 9(2)(e). In this article, Julian Lehmann dissects the CJEU's opinion and predicts the outcome in Mr. Shepherd's case.

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“The Benefit of the Doubt” in Asylum Law

United Kingdom , March 2, 2015

"The benefit of the doubt" is best understood, not as an independent principle to be ranked alongside the lower standard of proof, but rather as an integral part of such a standard.

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Establishing a Common European Asylum System by Leaving European Human Rights Standards Behind: Is this the Way Forward?

European Union, February 4, 2015

Things have definitely come to a head between the two European Courts, and for the time being, reconciliation is nowhere in sight [...] Should push come to shove, and national authorities be placed before a real dilemma between respecting EU Law or respecting ECHR Law, the ECJ might find that its judicial policy is not conducive to the authority and uniform application of EU Law [...] The irony is that, in following its perilous course, the ECJ is striving to place the Union’s AFSJ and CEAS on solid foundations. In fact, it is undermining them, along with human rights protection in the EU and beyond. Consider this: should the NS test eventually supplant the Soering test in the operation of the Dublin system, the ECJ will effectively have built a “systemic deficiency” – a rule producing serial violations of the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment.

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One Year after the Korean Refugee Act

South Korea, January 7, 2015

The Republic of Korea became a signatory of the Refugee Convention in 1992, shortly thereafter inserting just a few articles into its domestic immigration laws to adhere to the required procedures of refugee recognition under the Convention. By 2008, applications for refugee status had not exceeded 2,000, and the number of recognized refugees remained around 100. While it was undeniable that Korea had made steady progress in refugee protection, the pace was deemed unsatisfactory and public criticism was common. In 2012, the South Korean parliament passed Law No. 11298 of 2012, Refugee Act [hereinafter “Refugee Act”], which went into effect in 2013, making the Republic of Korea the first Asian country to have an independent law for refugee protection.

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Historic U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals Decision Recognizes Domestic Violence and Gender as the Basis for Asylum

U.S, December 3, 2014

Lawyers and scholars have been advocating for years for women to be fairly treated under our asylum statute, and one critical issue in this regard has been recognition of domestic violence as a potential basis for asylum. On August 26, 2014, after 20-years of a long and “bottom-up” movement for legal change, the Board of Immigration Appeals (B.I.A. or Board) issued an historic decision, recognizing that gender could be a cognizable characteristic for asylum eligibility purposes, and that domestic violence could, with proper evidence submitted, be the basis for a grant of asylum. The decision represents a ground-breaking reversal of the Board’s 15-year old denial of a claim based on domestic violence, Matter of R-A, issued in 1999

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UNHCR Faces an RSD Crisis

World-wide, November 10, 2014

In 2013, around one in five people who sought individual refugee status determination applied not to a government, but to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). While UNHCR reports that individual asylum applications as a whole rose globally from 2012 to 2013 by 15 percent, the burden of that increase was disproportionately absorbed by UNHCR, with a 61 percent increase in individual applications to UNHCR offices.

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