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The EU Mutual Learning Programme in Gender Equality Combating female genital mutilation and other harmful practices: Comments Paper for Greece



This paper takes issue with the policy context, the social and economic circumstances, the institutional and the legal framework on combatting FGM and other harmful practices in Greece. It refers to current discussions and further developments in the field that could be transferred from good practices applied in the UK and Italy. It concludes with a number of recommendations at National and EU level concerning FGM and other harmful practices.
The EU Mutual
Learning Programme
in Gender Equality
Combating female
genital mutilation and
other harmful practices
United Kingdom, 28-29 April 2016
Comments Paper - Greece
The information contained in this publication does not
necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the European
This publication is supported by the European Union Rights, Equality and
Citizenship Programme (2014-2020).
This programme is implemented by the European Commission and shall contribute
to the further development of an area where equality and the rights of persons, as
enshrined in the Treaty, the Charter and international human rights conventions, are
promoted and protected.
For more information see:
Comments Paper - Greece
Maria Kyprianou
Independent Expert
1. Introduction and relevant country context
1.1. Policy Context and Social/Economic Circumstances
Greece has been deeply affected from the refugee wave coming from countries both
practicing and not practicing FGM/C. In that sense, Greece has to deal with victims
of FGM/C or women who may face FGM/C if returned to their country as a form of
For this reason a special guidance edition has been published from
in order to help practitioners and inform the public.
1.2. Institutional and Legal Background
1.2.1. Institutions
The following Ministries and Non-Governmental Organisations have been actively
involved in the fight against FGM/C and other related harmful practices, in Greece:
Ministry of Health4
Ministry of Citizen Protection5
Ministry of Interior, General
Secretariat for Gender Equality6
Greek National Committee of
Hellenic Sudanese Friendship
Amnesty International Greek Section Publication -
UNHCR, Ministry of Citizen Protection, Mrs. Alexia Basiliou, Instructions for the protection of women
and girls during their entrance in Greece and the asylum procedure “Κατευθυντήριες Οδηγίες για την
προστασία των γυναικών και των κοριτσιών κατά την πρώτη υποδοχή στην Ελλάδα και τη διαδικασία
ασύλου», Athens June 2011.
According to the above-mentioned guidance, refugee status can be granted due to the possibility of
prosecution based on gender, where actions of sexual violence are involved, such as FGM/C. Even in
countries where FGM/C has been made a criminal offence, it could still be used as ground for
obtaining the refugee status where the state from where the refugee is originated tolerates or has no
power to stop it from. (Article 60 of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating
violence against women and domestic violence).
6 Website with relevant International and European Documents
related to FGM/Cακρωτηριασμό&x=0&y=0
Member of the Steering Committee of the 2009 Greece National Action Plan to prevent and eliminate
As a result of their work, three action plans were developed; the National
Programme for Substantive Gender Equality 2010-2013 (extended until December
, the National Action Plan for Reproductive and Sexual Health 2008-2012,
drafted by the Ministry of Health in 2009 and the Greece National Plan of Action to
prevent and eliminate Female Genital Mutilation.
The new national Action Plan for
Gender Equality 2016-2020 is currently being prepared. Nevertheless, no other new
action plans were found to replace or succeed the above-mentioned plans and there
is still no official government National Action Plan to prevent and eliminate FGM/C.
1.2.2. Legal Background
Criminal Law
In Greece there is no specific criminal prohibition of FGM. There is, however, a
general protection provision in the Penal Code. Articles 308 bodily harm, 309
dangerous bodily harm, 310 serious bodily harm and 312 bodily harm inflicted at
minors of the Penal Code, provide that inflicting bodily harm, serious, grave or
dangerous bodily harm to adults or minors is a crime under the said provisions of
the Penal Code.
Child protection laws/provisions
There are no specific law provisions protecting minors from FGM in Greece.
Nevertheless, the general legislative framework appears to cover cases of FGM, as
a form of child human rights violation or child abuse. Inflicting bodily harm to minors
is a crime under provision 312 of the Penal Code. Another legal provision in Greece
generally protecting children is Law 3625/2007 incorporating the Optional protocol
for the Protection of the Rights of the Child. This law mainly focuses on child
trafficking, child prostitution and the selling children's organs. It is important to note
that this law provides for the prohibition of corporate violence and not corporate
punishment of the child, thus providing for a wider scope of protection. However,
there is no specific reference to protection mechanisms or rehabilitation schemes for
children facing bodily harm within the family, with special reference to FGM cases.
Asylum law(s)/provisions
The relevant law dealing with asylum seekers is now the Asylum Law 4375/2016
which amended Law 3907/2011.
Articles 9 and 14 of the said Law, providing on
Member of the Steering Committee of the 2009 Greece National Action Plan to prevent and eliminate
Member of the Steering Committee of the 2009 Greece National Action Plan to prevent and
eliminate FGM
Member of the Steering Committee of the 2009 Greece National Action Plan to prevent and
eliminate FGM
The review of the Gender Equality Action Plan can be found online. There is reference to the
Cooperation of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality with UNICEF for research for FGM/C in
Greece aiming at prevention and combatting FGM/C. More information available at:
The text of the action plan can be read at:
Law 4375/2016, Organisation and Operation of the Asylum service, the Appeal Authority, the
Reception and Identification Service, establishment of the Reception General Secretariat and
incorporating the provisions of European Directive 2013/32/EC into Greek Legislation, “Οργάνωση και
Λειτουργία Υπηρεσίας Ασύλου, Αρχής Προσφυγών, Υπηρεσίας Υποδοχής και Ταυτοποίησης, σύσταση
the classification of refugees according to their situation could be used to classify
victims of FGM or persecuted women as refugees. Articles 8, 9 and 14 refer to
vulnerable persons and minors, which could be used in cases of child victims of
FGM. Articles 21 and 45 specifically refer to the protection of child asylum claimants
and unaccompanied minors. Under the provisions of the Common Ministerial
Decision 30651/2014,
a permit for humanitarian grounds can be granted to victims
or witnesses of crimes provided in articles 309 and 310 of the Penal Code, as
described above. Furthermore, under Common Ministerial Decision 1982/2016,
new procedure for the validation of the age of minor applicants for international
protection has been recently put in place, providing for the protection of under-aged
applicants once identified, including minors who may be victims of FGM/C or at risk,
if deported.
Forced and Child Marriage
With reference to forced marriage and child marriage as a related harmful practice,
research indicates that forced marriage exists in Greece especially amongst Roma
and Muslim communities.
A special Committee has been working in Greece since
2011 on the new legislation to incorporate the Istanbul Convention’s Principles.
Greece, the concept of forced marriage is indistinguishable from child marriage and
although bigamy and fraud to marriage are criminal offences, child marriage is
primarily a civil code violation. The exception to the minimum age to enter into
marriage usually applies to children between 14 and 18 years of age with the
permission of the court; nevertheless, the legislation does not state a minimum age
to which the exception may apply.
Concerning the asylum procedure followed in
Greece, forced marriage is recognised as an additional personal reason of danger
to a female refugee.
Γενικής Γραμματείας Υποδοχής, προσαρμογή της Ελληνικής Νομοθεσίας προς τις Διατάξεις της
Ευρωπαικής Οδηγίας 2013/32/ΕΚ”.
Law 3907/2011 Establishing the Asylum service and the First reception service and incorporating the
provisions of European Directive 2008/115/EC into Greek Legislation, “Ίδρυση Υπηρεσίας Ασύλου και
Υπηρεσίας Πρώτης Υποδοχής προσαρμογή της Ελληνικής Νομοθεσίας προς τις Διατάξεις της
Ευρωπαικής Οδηγίας 2008/115/ΕΚ.
Common Ministerial Decision 30651/2014, for the Establishment of a Class Residence Permit on
humanitarian grounds, as well as the type, the procedure and the specific conditions for the granting of
the permit, “Κοινή Υπουργική Απόφαση 30651/2014, Καθορισμός Κατηγορίας Άδειας Παραμονής για
Ανθρωπιστικούς Λόγους, καθώς και του τύπου, της διαδικασίας και των ειδικότερων προυποθέσεων
χορήγησης της”.
Common Ministerial Decision 1982/2016, Validation of the underage applicants for international
protection, “Κοινή Υπουργική Απόφαση 1982/2016, Διαπίστωση ανηλικότητας των αιτούντων διεθνή
European Parliament Study on Forced Marriage from a Gender Perspective (2016), available at:
The Committee was created to process provisions, which would improve and strengthen the existing
legal framework for combating violence against women. Decisions establishing the committee,
conclusions and annexes to the conclusions of the committee.
Article 1350 of the Greek Civil Code, Mandatory Law 2250/1940 ‘Civil Code’, as updated to modern
Greek by Presidential Decree 456/1984 (OJ 164/A/1984)’Civil Code and its Introductory Law’.
2. Policy Debate
2.1. Current Discussions
FGM/C has been discussed in the Hellenic Parliament since 1996 with the
enactment of Law 2552/1996
and has also been mentioned in various discussions
since in a way of reference, either regarding Women’s Day,
or with reference to
violence within the family and in gender equality discussions,
but with no
substantive legislative measures directly and expressly related to FGM/C.
It is very important to mention the landmark decision of Athens Administrative
Appeals Court which decided to suspend the expulsion of a Kenyan woman due to a
threat of being subjected to FGM/C and her three children tortured if she returned to
her country. This is a very important case as it is the first time a Greek court applied
the 1951 Geneva Convention provisions to grant protection due to an FGM threat
(decision 419/2014).
As demonstrated in the aforementioned case, although there
is no specific provision dealing with FGM, the legal definition of refugee can be used
in an asylum procedure to obtain the status of refugee in Greece, for a woman or a
child that has either undergone FGM, or is in fear of undergoing FGM if returned to
their country of origin.
When it comes to family honour crimes, forced and child marriages related to
FGM/C no reported cases or studies could be found. There was however reference
to crimes reported in the 50s and 60s, the so-called “vendettas” with little prevalence
in recent years.
2.2. Future Developments
As mentioned above, there is no evidence to the development of an official
government Action Plan related to FGM/C. There is however a lot of work done
concerning awareness and advocacy on behalf of the stakeholders and relevant
institutions mentioned above. Furthermore, legislative activity concerning the
refugee status and asylum seekers is developing continuously. At the same time, a
special Committee has been working since 2011 to incorporate the Istanbul
Convention’s Principles.
Hellenic Parliament website
Hellenic Parliament website
Hellenic Parliament website
Case No 419/2014 - Annex I
«Some of the most prominent honour crime murders include; in 1960 Stavroula Gouvousi drowned
her daughter-in-law in a tank because she had a love affair. Both she and her son, as an accomplice,
were convicted to execution. In 1996 Apostolos Kosmas "sawed" his son, because he was mentally ill
and in 1997 composer Akis Panou murdered Sotiris Yialama because he did not consent to his
relationship with his daughter.” Anna Karageorgiou, Common Law Advocate, Society: Family Honour,
Crimes Public Prosecutor Order No. 77/2013, Thessaloniki, 16.10.2013
The Committee was created to process provisions, which would improve and strengthen the existing
legal framework for combating violence against women. Decisions establishing the committee,
conclusions and annexes to the conclusions of the committee.
3. Transferability Aspects
3.1. UK Best Practices
The UK Discussion Paper outlines a great number of good practices to prevent
FGM/C and to protect FGM/C women and girls at risk. The general proposal is to
shift the emphasis on funding specialist services to protect and support victims
rather than on law enforcement, in order to promote better understanding of FGM/C
problems and other forms of gender-based violence. The key to UK’s successful
initiatives is the integration of a diverse range of activities and measures.
3.1.1. Collecting Evidence and Reporting
Collecting evidence on the extent and nature of FGM/C aims to assist policy makers
and NGOs in their efforts to address the practice. Although in the past evidence and
statistic data collection has been piecemeal mainly through funded studies or single
initiatives, it seems that this problem may be tackled by way of introducing
obligatory reporting from October 2015, for health and social care professionals.
This measure however must be applied with care so as to avoid breaching the
professional privilege and generally the rights of the patient. At the same time it is
important to transfer a balanced onus on professionals that will help rather than
intimidate them if their “positive duty” to act and report is breached. When the
situation is regulated there is always the risk of going undercover and this concern
should also be taken into account.
3.1.2. Legislation
According to the Discussion Paper, FGM/C is a criminal offence in England, Wales,
Northern Ireland and in Scotland. What is more, “FGM/C is an offence which
extends to acts performed outside of the UK and to any person who advises, helps
or forces a girl to inflict FGM on herself. Although it is in many ways difficult to
prove and apply this legal provision, as “there have been no convictions for FGM in
the UK to date”, this measure, unlike the legal framework in Greece, can guarantee
in a high probability the application of the extraterritoriality principle, where the
offence of FGM/C has occurred outside the UK by or to a UK citizen or resident.
This best practice could form a valid suggestion for Greece; especially the
provisions for failing to protect a girl from risk of FGM/C and the provisions for
FGM/C taking place abroad. Furthermore, it is important to note, as an additional
good practice suggestion, the measure of FGM/C Protection Court Orders applied in
emergency FGM/C risk cases.
3.1.3. Care Proceedings for Minors
A very good example, which is mostly oriented to protection of FGM/C victims or
people at risk, is the measure of providing care for children who are at risk of
FGM/C. Although this measure promotes the principle of the “welfare of the child”, it
may pose problems to the psychological health of a child that is being parted from
her parents. As reported in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary research,
Participants with experience of FGM expressed mixed feelings about reporting new
cases that they were aware of to the police. In another instance, a participant noted
that while reading FGM/C information she wondered whether she was a freak, her
parents were the worst people ever, and her culture was disgusting. She felt this
was not true, but at the same time, she felt that her human rights have been taken
away from her, as her body was altered without her consent. Professionals who
provide help should deal with these concerns in order to support women struggling
to intergrade into Western culture and society.
3.1.4. FGM Web App
The FGM web app is a great example demonstrating the good use of technology to
educate youth. It is important however to review the effectiveness of this measure
on educating teenagers as well as the way it is promoted though school initiatives or
in other ways.
3.1.5. New Steps for the African Community
FGM training to staff and pupils in high schools in Manchester should also be
evaluated and though the right policy and funding, if successful, it should be
extended to all schools in the UK, starting from areas were people who are mostly
affected reside.
3.1.6. Raising awareness and Multi-stakeholders Discussions
Measures of raising awareness at localities such as Bristol and the London Borough
of Lamberth are a very good starting point to develop think tanks while taking into
account the opinions of healthcare professionals, social care and police
professionals who then deal with women and girls affected by FGM/C at the “one
stop shop”. It is very important however to report and keep statistic data on the
cases treated in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the said measures and
receive funding. It seems that funding is one of the greatest hurdles in the fight
against FGM/C both in the UK and Greece. Hence, finding possible ways to self-
fund activities would be very helpful.
3.2. Italy Best Practices
According to Italy’s Discussion Paper Italian policy focuses on FGM/C and Forced
Marriage with an integrated institutional system and the main goal is to remove all
forms of discrimination and developing gender-sensitive policies. The main best
practices adopted in Italy are the following.
3.2.1. Multi-layered Strategy
Under the coordination of the Department of Equal Opportunities, Italy established a
coordinating National Commission. The Commission approved the first Strategic
Plan (2007) to combat traditional harmful practices in the areas of action/research
projects, awareness-raising campaigns and training courses. In 2011 the
Commission drafted the second Strategic Plan aiming at regions where immigrants
from FGM/C practicing countries resided. In addition to the above, Italy incorporated
FGM/C in the National Action Plan combatting violence against women. Greece
should adopt a similar structured design in order to effectively implement measures
at a national level.
3.2.2. Collecting Statistic Data
Statistical Data were collected to measure FGM/C prevalence, through different
initiatives; nevertheless, the variety of methodologies used makes it difficult to
compare the collected data. Moreover, there are no available statistic data to
estimate the entity of the phenomenon of forced marriages. Italian authorities have
identified the problem and they are now promoting a promising improved method of
indirect estimation of prevalence developed by the University of Milano Bicocca.
What needs some clarification before this method could be adopted by other EU
countries is how the collected data would be compared to data collected through the
Daphne project being currently implemented in the EU, if the methodology used in
this project is different.
3.2.3. Legislation and Guidelines
Italian law 7/2006 includes provisions on the prevention and prohibition of FGM/C.
The Italian Ministry of Health released guidelines for the prevention, support, and
rehabilitation activities for women and girls who had FGM/C or are at risk, targeting
the education of health and social work professionals and teachers. With regards to
forced marriage, Italy has no special offence and this legislative void should thus be
addressed with new legislation. As mentioned above, Greece could also legislate
specifically against FGM/C.
3.2.4. Funding
According to the discussion paper, the budgets available for activities combatting
FGM/C are 177,000 EUR per year from 2006 onwards. It is important to note that
funding is allocated to regional projects realised under a strategic plan. Furthermore
the Italian Development Cooperation supports through annual voluntary
contributions the activities of UNWOMEN, UNFPA and UNICEF. Although funding
policies largely depend on a country’s financial situation, Greece could seek to form
alliances with other countries and also to obtain financing from EU funds.
3.2.5. Training and Awareness-Raising activities
It is very important to mention the promising regional experiences of Emilia
Romagna (a regional system of local networks on FGM for an effective "community
and proximity work” through exhibitions, theatre shows, art performances etc),
Tuscany ('online bulletin board' for trained operators) and Lombardy (creating a
website containing information and e-learning resources addressed to operators,
migrants communities and general population and collecting data to set up a
specific FGM Support Service in Milan). A critique to the above measures is the fact
that there are no evaluation elements available to assess the effectiveness of the
campaigns. If Greece is to adopt the above good practices; all awareness activities
should be accompanied by questionnaires or independent evaluations.
This process involves a study of first generation migrant flows, an assessment of socio-demographic
and inter-regional groups, as well as a correction technique that takes into consideration the evolving
nature of the phenomenon.
An example in Italy that used feedback evaluations was the AIDOS project creating audio
documentaries from FGM/C practicing countries, which was positively evaluated by participants.
3.2.6. Health Care Assistance
In addition to the above regional initiatives, an important best practice was the pilot
healthcare assistance on women suffering of reproductive health disorders, sexual
and relational problems as a consequences of the mutilation, obstetric problems
during pregnancy and childbirth, at the Maternal and Child Department of the San
Camillo-Forlanini Hospital in Rome. Considering that most FGM/C affected women
were found in Athens, Greece could adopt this best practice in a specialised hospital
in Athens. Furthermore, considering that Greece is now accommodating a great
number of refugees and migrants of whom a number may originate from an FGM/C
practicing countries, Greece could implement a project similar to the Piedmont
project(Torino), targeting health and social care professionals working with migrants.
4. Recommendations for Action
4.1. Recommendations at National Level Greece
Greece lacks in policy making and activities specifically targeted towards eliminating
FGM/C and other related harmful practices, in comparison to the UK and Italy. The
first main step for Greece would be to create and follow a National Action Plan for
FGM/C and other related harmful practices. Dealing with FGM/C as a matter of
gender equality, or an issue of reproductive and sexual health or as a ground for
obtaining the refugee or humanitarian status to remain in the country is not wrong; it
does not however fully captivate or deal with the complexities of FGM/C as a
criminal offence, as a social, psychological and human rights violation problem.
It would hence be very effective for Greece to start collecting statistical data through
health practitioners, teachers and NGO’s, at a National level, to determine how big
the problem is in Greece, in order to decide on the best way to eradicate it. A good
suggestion would be for Greece to join the EIGE Project on measuring FGM
prevalence of females at risk. The next step would be to raise awareness in the
Society, Migrants, Roma and refugees for FGM/C and other related harmful
practices such as forced and child marriage. Moreover, it would be helpful to include
teaching materials at schools and to educate Asylum Service Personnel, police,
health care and social care professionals. In order to establish a holistic approach,
Greece has to create preventative intervention and treatment programmes and at
the same time make an active effort to involve the media and the private sector in
these activities. Last but not least, as mentioned above, the legal framework could
be amended in a way to be able to apply the extraterritoriality principle and also to
include a special provision for the prohibition of FGM/C as a criminal offence. This
amendment could be part of the work currently being done by the special
Committee on transposing the Istanbul Convention’s Principles in Greek Law.
4.2. Recommendations at European Level
What seems to be the main concern both in the UK and Italy and also in Greece is
the problem of funding. It is therefore vital for the European Union to promote the
development of initiatives for exchanging good practices and experiences, but also
to encourage a common policy through funding sustainable activities and initiatives
using partnerships within the EU.
United Kingdom, 28-29 April 2016
Annex I
Athens Administrative Appeals Court, Decision 419/2014
In the landmark decision of Athens Administrative Appeals Court, the Court decided
to suspend the expulsion of a Kenyan woman and her children due to a threat of
being subjected to FGM/C and her three children tortured if she returned to her
country. This is a very important case as it is the first time a Greek court applied the
1951 Geneva Convention provisions to grant protection due to an FGM threat.
The Kenyan national arrived in Greece on September 3, 2002 and applied for an
international protection permit under the Convention at the regional asylum office
in Attica for herself and her children, aged 13, 5 and 3 years old.
In her application, she stated she did not want to return to her country because she
belongs to the Kikuyu tribe which practices FGM on all females, and she could also
be subjected to the same under the Mungiki organisation, which is active in many
Kenyan areas. The regional asylum office rejected her application on the grounds
that she and her children did not meet the Geneva Convention’s classification
conditions for refugee status.
The woman then appealed to a Ministry of Justice Committee, but the Committee
rejected her application on the grounds that she did not submit “incontrovertible
evidence proving that her fear due to the threat of being subjected to FGM by the
Mungiki organisation can be seen as justifiable and substantiated on objective facts,
in order to conclude that there is immediate and unavoidable threat to her life or
physical safety if she returns to her country of origin.”
The woman took recourse to Greek courts on the grounds that if she and her
children returned to Kenya they would be tortured or treated inhumanely and that
her children would be either conscripted into criminal organisations, abducted by
them or be persecuted in the youngest case for being a legitimate child of an
American citizen. The court accepted her plea and decided to suspend the Ministry
of Justice Committee’s decision that would result in the forced exit and repatriation
of the woman and her children to Kenya.
As demonstrated in the aforementioned case, although there is no specific provision
dealing with FGM, the legal definition of refugee can be used in an asylum
procedure to obtain the status of refugee in Greece, for a woman or a child that has
either undergone FGM, or is in fear of undergoing FGM if returned to their country of
origin. Women who have undergone FGM may be granted asylum on the basis of
not being able to obtain medical treatment for complications arising from FGM, if
returned to their countries of origin; if returned, victims of FGM could have their
article 3 of the ECHR breached by the country that sends them back to their country
of origin.
Case No 419/2014
Sotiria Nikolouli, “Greek Court Issues First-Time Ruling on Female Genital Mutilation Case”, Greek
Reporter, (20 July 2014) Article available in English at:
United Kingdom, 28-29 April 2016
In Greece, the legal definition of a refugee is a translation of the 1951 Convention
definition in Greek: "the term “refugees” shall apply to persons who owing to well-
founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality,
membership of a particular social group or political opinion, are outside their country
of nationality and are unable or, owing to such fear, are unwilling to avail themselves
of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside
the country of their former habitual residence as a result of such events, are unable
or, owing to such fear, are unwilling to return to it.”
In cases where a woman fears persecution if returned to her country of origin,
because of her membership to a particular social group
which practices FGM, she
could claim asylum on this basis. The practice of FGM itself could be interpreted as
persecution, since FGM is defined as a cruel, inhuman and to some, a torturous act.
It is the opinion of many refugee law experts
that article 3 of the European
Convention on Human Rights, prohibition of torture or inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, would have been breached by the Government of Greece,
in case that victim is returned to her county of origin. Another reason for following
the non-refoulement principle
and not returning the FGM victim to her country of
origin would have been to grant her asylum status on a humanitarian basis. To
further illustrate the above point, asylum is often granted to asylum seekers on
humanitarian grounds which cover issues that are not covered by the 1951
Convention; being a victim or potential victim of FGM could form one of the grounds
to obtain the refugee status, for humanitarian reasons, or at least for the victim to
obtain the humanitarian leave to stay in the safe third country.
UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations,
Treaty Series, vol. 189, p. 137, available at: [accessed 12 February 2012].
A “particular social group” is defined under provision 3D(1)d(I) of the Asylum Law L. 6(I)/2000, as a
group comprising persons of similar background, habits or social status.
Professor Satvinder Juss, King’s College London. Prof. Guy S. Goodwin Gill, Prof. James Hathaway.
“The principle of non-refoulement is the cornerstone of asylum and of international refugee law.
Following from the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution, as set forth in
Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this principle reflects the commitment of the
international community to ensure to all persons the enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to
life, to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to liberty and
security of person. These and other rights are threatened when a refugee is returned to persecution or
danger”. For more information please refer to UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR Note on
the Principle of Non-Refoulement, November 1997, available at: [accessed 23 February 2012]
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