Can Terrorists Be Denied Refugee Status?
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In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Madrid, London and Paris, public security has been widely quoted to assert that access to an asylum claim for refugees should be limited. Media reporting on those incidents regularly refer to the immigration status of the perpetrators of the acts. In other reports, they have connoted the existence of a link between irregular immigration and criminality. Given this context, it is worth recollecting Para. 73 of the judgment by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 15 November 1996 in the case Chahal v. The United Kingdom (Application no. 22414/93), in which the court concluded that, “Contracting States have the right, as a matter of well-established international law and subject to their treaty obligations ... to control the entry, residence and expulsion of aliens.” Nevertheless, the legitimacy of a state to manage immigration must respect human rights, including the non-refoulement principle.
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