Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Case Law

This page contains a list of online databases which can provide municipal and international case law and specific case law by country. If you are aware of precedential or influential judgements in your jurisdiction, please forward them to us and we will link them on this page for others to use.

The Centre for Migration Studies of New York (CMS)

http://cmsny.org/

The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) is an educational think tank dedicated to the study of international migration and to public policies that protect the dignity and rights of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers. CMS publishes several journals, such as the International Migration Review and Journal on Migration and Human Security, which are available on the website. Both journals contain articles on developments in US caselaw and policies on refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers. CMS also offers a weekly email digest on topics in US and international migration.

The European Database of Asylum Law (EDAL)

http://www.asylumlawdatabase.eu

The European Database of Asylum Law (EDAL) is an accessible, open access, online database of case law from EU Member States relevant to the interpretation of European asylum law. It is coordinated and hosted by the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) in partnership with the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC). It is funded by the European Commission’s European Refugee Fund. EDAL’s primary purpose is to provide summaries of relevant case law in English and the national language of the Member State in which the decision was made. EDAL is searchable in English and the original language of the decision. Cases are searchable by multiple search fields, e.g. case name, date, country of applicant, country of asylum, provisions of EU law, ‘free-text search’ and by selecting keywords. There is also an extensive browse function available so that users can browse decisions according to country and legal provision etc. A User Guide to the Database is available in 9 EU languages at http://www.asylumlawdatabase.eu/en/content/about-edal-european-database-asylum-law.

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (United States caselaw)

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) database contains information on over 7,000 asylum cases from 1996 onwards, at all levels of adjudication across the United States. Asylum seekers in most of these cases are women, children, or LGBT refugees. Case records include unpublished Immigration Judge or Board of Immigration Appeals decisions and most offer a summary of the decision provided by the applicant’s attorney. Given the absence of official reporting on asylum cases at most stages of adjudication, the information provided by the CGRS database offers a unique source of information for those representing asylum seekers. 

South Africa

Since South Africa's emergence as a refugee receiving country a large body of jurisprudence has developed. The Reader below is aimed to be a repository of cases and materials for academic and litigation purposes. We will continue to update and invite you visit our website - for new additions.

Refugee Rights / Legal Practice / Case Law Reader

RefWorld

http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/category,LEGAL,,CASELAW,,,0.html

This site is maintained by the Office of the UNHCR. It contains over 7,000 judicial decisions from a large number of jurisdictions. Most of the cases are from higher courts and are therefore likely to be more persuasive to future courts and decision-makers. It has a search function that allows filtering by country of origin of the refugee claimant as well as country of the decision.

The University of Michigan Law School Refugee RefLAW Site

www.reflaw.org 

The University of Michigan Law School's Program in Refugee and Asylum Law has launched RefLAW, "an online forum offering critical analysis on important new cases, legislation, and emerging issues in refugee law." It publishes both longer articles and shorter notes. Submissions for future commentary are currently being solicited. RefLAW replaced the Refugee Caselaw site. 

Commonwealth and International Human Rights Case Law Databases

http://www.interights.org/commonwealth-and-international-law-database/index.html

These two databases are compiled by INTERIGHTS, the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights, and made freely available on their website. One covers human rights decisions in the courts of Commonwealth countries and the other covers the decisions of international courts and tribunals. The databases can be searched separately or together. There is a summary of each case and some judgments are available in full.

The World Law Guide

www.lexadin.nl/wlg/legis/nofr/legis.php

A free global legislation database which lists case law, legislation, law firms, law schools, law journals and articles by country, with listings for every country in the world.

WorldLII

http://www.austlii.edu.au/catalog/3061.html

This website combines legal resources from 123 jurisdictions. It has a searchable database of case law as well as legislation. At the time of writing, it had resources, including case law, from Australia, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Denmark, East Timor, Japan, Moldova, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Palestinian Autonomous Territories, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America and Venezuela. This site is the best site for searching Australian refugee case law.

International Refugee Case Law

www.interights.org/commonwealth-and-international-law-database/index.html

This website provides access to case law from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and 28 other Northern asylum countries. It allows for searching by country of origin, time period and by ‘concept’.

Asylum Law

http://asylumlaw.org/

This site provides access to case law, organized by country and theme, from 35 countries. The themes include HIV, sexual minorities, gender and children.

NYU GlobaLex

http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/index.html

GlobaLex is an electronic legal publication dedicated to international and foreign law research, published by the Hauser Global Law School Program at NYU School of Law. GlobaLex is committed to the dissemination of high-level international, foreign, and comparative law research tools in order to accommodate the needs of an increasingly global educational and practicing legal world.

Legislation Online

http://www.legislationline.org/search

This website provides access to European materials on refugees. To access them, go to the search function and type ‘refugee’ in the text field, Select ‘Migration’ as the topic then ‘Legal opinion’ to gain access to decisions regarding refugees. w.corteidh.or.cr/bus_temas.cfm

NEAIS

The Newsletter on European Asylum Issues (NEAIS) is a Newsletter on European Asylum Issues. This newsletter is designed for judges who need to keep up to date with European developments in the area of asylum. This newsletter contains European legislation and jurisprudence on four central themes regarding asylum: (1) qualification for protection (2) procedural safeguards (3) responsibility sharing and (4) reception conditions of asylum seekers.

European Court of Human Rights

http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/search.asp?skin=hudoc-in-en

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

http://www.corteidh.or.cr/index.php/jurisprudencia#

Both the European and Inter-American Courts of Human Rights have made a large number of decisions involving asylum and refugee claims. These decisions can be sourced through the search functions available at these links.

New Zealand Refugee Law

www.refugee.org.nz/

This website gives access to New Zealand case law. It offers full-text decisions of decisions from superior courts and initial decision makers.

Kenyan Refugee Law

www.kenyalaw.org/CaseSearch/

This website provides access to superior court decisions. There are very few reported decisions on refugees available but this is the most authoritative source for them.

African Human Rights Case Law Analyser

http://caselaw.ihrda.org/

A new database from the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS) for jurisprudence of the African Human Rights System. The Caselaw Analyser provides:

  • Automated high quality pertinent analysis;
  • Easy browsing of inter-related decisions;
  • Quick access of primary case law for each violation;
  • Automatic calculation of jurisprudential value of each decision based on frequency   of  citation;
  • Comprehensive key word search;
  • Hyperlinks to authorities (laws and cases cited);
  • Easy annotation and sharing of commentary on interesting decisions.

 

Case Law by Country

GERMANY

BVerwG 10 C 4.09/VGH 8 A 611/08.A (The Federal Administrative Court, Germany), 27 April 2010 [Unofficial translation]

Afghan citizen denied asylum in Germany but deportation impeded due to the situation in Afghanistan.

BVerwG 10 C 48.07 / OVG 8 A 2632/06.A (The Federal Administrative Court, Germany), 14 October 2008 [Unofficial translation]

Turkish national of Kurdish ethnicity fled Turkey and sought asylum in Germany in 2002. Denied asylum and protection from deportation by the Federal Office, he was recognised as entitled to asylum by the Administrative Court in 2004. In 2007, the Respondent’s appeal before the Higher Administrative Court was rejected. The Respondent appeals the Higher Administrative Court decision before the Federal Administrative Court.

Judgment in Case C-4/11 Bundesrepublik Deutschland v Kaveh Puid, 14 November 2013

This case involves an Iranian national who sought asylum in Germany after travelling through Greece. 

HONG KONG

Hong Kong, Yam v. Director of Immigration, High Court Action File 105/2008

  • Judge ruled that customary international law of non-refoulement did not constitute a legal norm and has no application in Hong Kong domestic law.
  • Refused to recognise the right of non-refoulement.
  • Also ruled that Hong Kong courts may rely on the UNHCR’s determination of whether a refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution.

The following four cases have been the impetus for the unprecedented “Joint Position Paper from the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association on the Framework for Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) Claimants and Asylum Seekers”, 31st March 2009...

Sakthevel Prabakar v Secretary for Security ((2004) 7 HKCFAR 187, Court of Final Appeal judgment dated 8th June 2004)

  • Challenge against the Government’s reliance on UNHCR decisions to meet its obligations under the Convention Against Torture.
  • The case which forced the Government to conduct its own assessment of claims under the Convention Against Torture.
C & Ors v Director of Immigration & Secretary for Security (HCAL 132/2006, Court of First Instance judgment dated 18th February 2008 – pending appeal)
  • Challenge against the Government’s refusal to assess refugee claims, as required under customary international law.
  • Held that non-refoulement is a matter of customary international law (although found that HKSAR had persistently objected against it).
  • Held that the Government’s administrative detention of claimants under the Convention Against Torture was unlawful because it did not make the grounds and procedure for detention certain and accessible, as required by the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance.
  • The same principle would arguably apply to refugee claimants.
  • Challenge against the Government’s unfair assessment system of claims under the Convention Against Torture.
  • Resulted in an independent appeal tribunal system and government funded legal representation.

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