EM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State for the Home Department: HL 22 Oct 2008

The claimant challenged the respondent’s decision to order the return of herself and her son to Lebanon.
Held: The test for whether a claimant’s rights would be infringed to such an extent as to prevent their return home was a strict one, but in this case, the appeal was allowed, and the decision quashed. The order would infringe the claimant’s human rights. The effect of such a removal would be completely to deny or nullify her right to family life in the destination country. She had lived as a muslim in Lebanon, but if returned, the father of the child would be free to remove him to Saudi Arabia under Lebanese law, and any rights of visitation would be no more than nominal. Lebanon was not a party to the Convention, and therefore was not bound by it, though its family law reflected its own traditions which were themselves respected and observed throughout the world.
Lord Hope said: ‘The mutual enjoyment by parent and child of each other’s company is a fundamental element of family life. Under our law non-discrimination is a core principle for the protection of human rights. The fact is however that Shari’a law as it is applied in Lebanon was created by and for men in a male dominated society. The place of the mother in the life of a child under that system is quite different under that law from that which is guaranteed in the Contracting States by article 8 of the Convention read in conjunction with article 14. There is no place in it for equal rights between men and women. It is, as Lord Bingham points out, the product of a religious and cultural tradition that is respected and observed throughout much of the world. But by our standards the system is arbitrary because the law permits of no exceptions to its application, however strong the objections may be on the facts of any given case. It is discriminatory too because it denies women custody of their children after they have reached the age of custodial transfer simply because they are women. That is why the appellant removed her child from that system of law and sought protection against its effects in this country. ‘
Lady Hales said: ‘Separate consideration and separate representation are, however, two different things. Questions may have to be asked about the situation of other family members, especially children, and about their views. It cannot be assumed that the interests of all the family members are identical. In particular, a child is not to be held responsible for the moral failures of either of his parents. Sometimes, further information may be required. If the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service or, more probably, the local children’s services authority can be persuaded to help in difficult cases, then so much the better. But in most immigration situations, unlike many ordinary abduction cases, the interests of different family members are unlikely to be in conflict with one another. Separate legal (or other) representation will rarely be called for.’

Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
[2008] UKHL 64, [2008] 3 WLR 931, [2009] HRLR 6, [2009] AC 1198, [2009] 1 FCR 441, [2009] 1 All ER 559, [2009] UKHRR 22, [2008] Fam Law 1190, [2008] 2 FLR 2067
Bailii, Times, HL
European Convention on Human Rights 8
England and Wales
Appeal fromEM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State for the Home Dept CA 21-Nov-2006
The asylum applicant said that if she was returned to her home country, she would be judged under Sharia law, and would thereby lose custody of her son, and this would deny her her right to family life.
Held: Any such loss would not be . .
CitedRegina v Department of Education and Employment ex parte Begbie CA 20-Aug-1999
A statement made by a politician as to his intentions on a particular matter if elected could not create a legitimate expectation as regards the delivery of the promise after elected, even where the promise would directly affect individuals, and the . .
CitedMamatkulov and Askarov v Turkey ECHR 4-Feb-2005
(Grand Chamber) The applicants had resisted extradition to Uzbekistan from Turkey to stand trial on very serious charges, saying that if returned they would be tortured. There was material to show that that was not a fanciful fear. On application . .
CitedRegina v Special Adjudicator ex parte Ullah; Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 17-Jun-2004
The applicants had had their requests for asylum refused. They complained that if they were removed from the UK, their article 3 rights would be infringed. If they were returned to Pakistan or Vietnam they would be persecuted for their religious . .
CitedDevaseelan v Secretary of State for the Home Department IAT 2003
The tribunal asked as to the relevance of the possible mistreatment of the applicant if returned to his home country: ‘The reason why flagrant denial or gross violation is to be taken into account is that it is only in such a case – where the right . .
CitedSoering v The United Kingdom ECHR 7-Jul-1989
(Plenary Court) The applicant was held in prison in the UK, pending extradition to the US to face allegations of murder, for which he faced the risk of the death sentence, which would be unlawful in the UK. If extradited, a representation would be . .
CitedRegina v Sectretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Razgar etc HL 17-Jun-2004
The claimant resisted removal after failure of his claim for asylum, saying that this would have serious adverse consequences to his mental health, infringing his rights under article 8. He appealed the respondent’s certificate that his claim was . .
CitedF v United Kingdom ECHR 22-Jun-2004
An Iranian citizen claimed asylum saying that he feared persecution as a homosexual. When his application was rejected, he claimed that there would be a breach of article 8 if he were to be removed to Iran because a law in that country prohibited . .
CitedN v The United Kingdom ECHR 27-May-2008
(Grand Chamber) The appellant was found after her arrival in this country from Uganda to have an AIDS-defining illness for which she was still receiving treatment. She claimed that the treatment would not be available in Uganda and she would die . .
CitedMarckx v Belgium ECHR 13-Jun-1979
Recognition of illegitimate children
The complaint related to the manner in which parents were required to adopt their own illegitimate child in order to increase his rights. Under Belgian law, no legal bond between an unmarried mother and her child results from the mere fact of birth. . .
CitedGul v Switzerland ECHR 19-Feb-1996
A Turkish father, who had been permitted on humanitarian grounds to reside with his wife in Switzerland, failed to establish that, by refusing to allow their seven-year-old son to join them in Switzerland, the state had interfered with respect for . .
CitedChahal v The United Kingdom ECHR 15-Nov-1996
Proper Reply Opportunity Required on Deportation
(Grand Chamber) The claimant was an Indian citizen who had been granted indefinite leave to remain in this country but whose activities as a Sikh separatist brought him to the notice of the authorities both in India and here. The Home Secretary of . .
CitedZ and T v United Kingdom ECHR 28-Feb-2006
The applicants were Christian Pakistanis. Their asylum claims having failed, they feared that if returned to Pakistan, they would be persecuted, and asked for their article 9 rights, saying that the flagrant denial test should not be applied, as . .
CitedRe J (A Child), Re (Child returned abroad: Convention Rights); (Custody Rights: Jurisdiction) HL 16-Jun-2005
The parents had married under shariah law. They left the US to return to the father’s home country Saudi Arabia. They parted, and the mother brought their son to England against the father’s wishes and in breach of an agreement. The father sought . .
CitedD v The United Kingdom ECHR 2-May-1997
The applicant, an AIDS sufferer, resisted his removal to St Kitts where lack of medical treatment would hasten his death.
Held: The deportation of a convicted person suffering from Aids to a country with less care facilities was inhuman or . .
CitedMamatkulov and Abdurasulovic v Turkey ECHR 6-Feb-2003
A retrospective complaint of extradition to Uzbekistan was made. The applicants sought to resist their extradition from Turkey to Uzbekistan, saying they would be tortured.
Held: Convention states must comply with orders made by the European . .
CitedMcMichael v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Mar-1995
In the course of care proceedings, medical and social services’ reports were disclosed to the courts, but not to the parents involved.
Held: The courts’ failure to show reports to the parents in care proceedings was a breach of the Convention. . .
CitedJohansen v Norway ECHR 7-Aug-1996
The court had to consider a permanent placement of a child with a view to adoption in oposition to the natural parents’ wishes.
Held: Particular weight should be attached to the best interests of the child, which may override those of the . .
CitedBensaid v The United Kingdom ECHR 6-Feb-2001
The applicant was a schizophrenic and an illegal immigrant. He claimed that his removal to Algeria would deprive him of essential medical treatment and sever ties that he had developed in the UK that were important for his well-being. He claimed . .
CitedAl-Nashif v Bulgaria ECHR 20-Jun-2002
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objections dismissed (non-exhaustion, abuse of right of petition); Violation of Art. 5-4; Violation of Art. 8; Violation of Art. 13; Not necessary to . .
CitedChikwamba v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 25-Jun-2008
The appellant had fled Zimbabwe. Though her asylum application was refused, she was not returned for the temporary suspension of such orders to Zimbabwe. In the meantime she married and had a child. She now appealed an order for her removal citing . .
CitedBeokuBetts v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 25-Jun-2008
The appellant had arrived from Sierra Leone and obtained student permits. When they expired he sought asylum, citing his family’s persecution after a coup, and that fact that other members of his family now had indefinite leave, and he said that an . .
CitedGovernment of the United States of America v Barnette and Montgomery (No 2) HL 22-Jul-2004
The applicant sought to resist orders for the return to the US of what were alleged to be the proceeds (direct or indirect) of a fraud committed there. She had been in contempt of the court in the US and was a fugitive here. She complained that the . .

Cited by:
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The two applicants had been detained by the armed forces in Iraq suspected of murder. They sought release before being transferred to the civilian authorities for trial saying that the trials would not be fair. The respondent denied that the . .
CitedRB (Algeria) and Another v Secretary of State for the Home Department; OO (Jordan) v Same; MT (Algeria) v Same HL 18-Feb-2009
Fairness of SIAC procedures
Each defendant was to be deported for fear of involvement in terrorist activities, but feared that if returned to their home countries, they would be tortured. The respondent had obtained re-assurances from the destination governments that this . .
CitedZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 1-Feb-2011
The respondent had arrived and claimed asylum. Three claims were rejected, two of which were fraudulent. She had two children by a UK citizen, and if deported the result would be (the father being unsuitable) that the children would have to return . .
CitedKapri v The Lord Advocate (Representing The Government of The Republic of Albania) SC 10-Jul-2013
The Court was asked whether it would be compatible with the appellant’s Convention rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998 for the appellant, who is an Albanian national, to be extradited to Albania. On 7 April 2001, while he was in . .

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Immigration, Human Rights, Children

Leading Case

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.277127