Right to Asylum
Throughout Doughty Street’s 25 year history we have represented refugees seeking asylum in the UK, and have been instrumental in developing the law relating to protection against removal or extradition to countries where there is a real risk of breaches of individuals’ rights under the European Convention, at all levels of domestic courts and in Europe. However, until very recently, there was no recognised right to asylum in international law, despite the protection of the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights was therefore groundbreaking in guaranteeing a right to asylum for individuals. Until the judgment of the CJEU in R (NS) v SSHD, in which several members of Doughty Street were involved, there was real uncertainty about whether the Charter could be relied on directly in the UK to enforce the rights contained within it. The CJEU decided in NS that the UK-Polish ‘opt-out’ Protocol did not prevent the EU Charter, including Article 18, being relied on by individuals in the UK. The judgment opened up the way for EU Charter rights, including the right to asylum, to be relied on in domestic litigation to defend asylum seekers’ rights.
In October 2015, more than 50 of our members were among many lawyers who signed up to a statement condemning the Government’s response to the refugee crisis and calling for an urgent, humane and effective governmental response to it.