Introductory Note to the UK House of Lords EM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State of the Home Department Judgment
International Legal Materials, Vol 48, No 1 (2009) pp. 30-32
3 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2013 Last revised: 11 Mar 2018
Date Written: September 1, 2009
On October 22, 2008, House of Lords ruled in favor of the applicant in EM (Lebanon) case. Here, a mother sought to challenge her removal to Lebanon on the grounds that it would generate a "flagrant denial of her right to family life" under Articles 8 and 14 of the ECHR. She claimed that the Shari’a legal system in Lebanon would deprive her of her custody rights and amount to a grave violation the child’s best interest. The House of Lords concluded that where the only family life the child has ever known is with his mother, the family would be destroyed as a result of expulsion for reasons that could never be justified under Article 8(2) ECHR. Such a deprivation would be arbitrary and pay no regard to the child’s best interest. The EM judgment presents a significant extension of the spatial application of human rights to non-nationals vis-a`-vis the state, particularly where a state is prevented from a flagrant violation of one of the most fundamental rights in an exceptionally compassionate situation constituting humanitarian grounds. Insofar as the Court's conclusion favours indirect state responsibility for removal of an individual to a country where the person’s rights would be violated, it is expected to produce a legal tool of comparable force to the Soering rationale.
Keywords: European Court of Human Rights, family life, Soering, flagrant denial, indirect state responsibility, Lebanon
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