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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Supreme Court of Canada and “Serious Non-Political Crimes”

Canada, November 19, 2014

On October 30, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada released its long awaited decision in Febles v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), interpreting the scope of Article 1F(b) of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees as implemented through the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

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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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South African Court Affirms Refugees’ Right to Self-Employment

South Africa, November 10, 2014

In September the South African Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed the right of refugees to work and to open businesses in South Africa.

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The Conundrum of Concealment: Minister for Immigration and Border Protection v. SZSCA, [2013] FCAFC 155 (Aus. Full Federal Court, Dec. 10, 2013)

Australia, October 1, 2014

The Full Federal Court of Australia recently considered the refugee status of an Afghan who had worked for nearly a quarter century as a jewelry maker in Kabul, before deciding in 2007 to work instead as a self-employed truck driver. Initially, his work consisted of transporting such goods as wood, animal skins, and food across the country. But starting in January 2011, he agreed to begin hauling building materials from Kabul to Jaghori in order to supply reconstruction projects being undertaken by the government and international aid agencies. He took on this new work because “he was paid more," noting that “there was not a lot of work and he had to support his family." When the Taliban threatened to kill him if he continued to transport building materials used in reconstruction, he fled Afghanistan and advanced a refugee claim in Australia.

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Israeli Supreme Court on Detention of Asylum Seekers

Israel, September 30, 2014

On September 22, 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court sitting as a High Court of Justice quashed a legislative scheme which authorized the detention of "infiltrators."

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