Archive: 28 April 2023

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection

When we think about asylum-seekers and the countries that are unable or unwilling to protect them, our thoughts may turn to Shia Hazara families fleeing Taliban violence in Afghanistan. We may think about the arbitrary detention of activists in Damascus by the Syrian Democratic Forces. As we think about what drives a decision to flee one’s country, the Eritrean government’s barbaric acts of torture and its imprisonment of Asmara residents, and the Midgan clans use of female genital mutilation as a political tool to control women in Somalia may also spring to mind.

We may turn to lawyers and human rights experts to gain a better understanding of why militant organizations seeking to establish an Islamic state may arouse fear in political activists. Academic journals, country reports, and case law may also highlight how the inundation of terrorist propaganda in rogue nations can grow to be dangerous for the average national.

As we journey away from the transgressions above, imagine that an individual fled their country because members of a criminal organization seek to extort and harm them. Are they entitled to international protection? What if authorities in a country fail to arrest the suspects who repeatedly assault and threaten a member of the LGBTI community? Suppose a student activist fled their country after police racially profiled and assaulted them, and the courts refuse to prosecute. Is this a legitimate claim for international protection? What if a whistleblower wrote an academic piece about the human rights conditions in their country, because they felt disclosure was in the public’s interest; however, had their act of fearless speech — that stands testimony to wrong — chilled by media in their country? Let’s assume mainstream did it to conceal from the public, serious government wrongdoing that ought to be known and deliberated about. Are they entitled to international protection? If the answer is yes, would it still be if we learned the individual fled Oceania, Europe, or North America? Some jurisdictions would argue no, as these nations have a democratic style of leadership. When there is a system of checks and balances, and “constitutional guarantees” of due process in place, a country is considered a safe country of origin. To be sure, the European Union’s Directive 2013/32/EU (Annex I) states:

“A country is considered as a safe country of origin where, on the basis of the legal situation, the application of the law within a democratic system and the general political circumstances, it can be shown that there is generally and consistently no persecution as defined in Article 9 of directive 2011/95/EU, no torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and no threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.”

One cannot possibly accept this definition, as “consistently” indicates that in every democratic regime case, there is no persecution, torture, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment, nor is there indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict on any occasion. That is a heavy burden for a country to meet, even those with a democratic style of leadership. If a country contends that its behavior is consistent with every citizen, and there are absolutely no forms of persecution on its soil, can we really trust it? Moreover, can we trust the international bodies that believe it too? It is a question that figures prominently in terms of the principle of non-refoulement — the practice of not forcing asylum-seekers and refugees to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution.

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection – Are States Complicit?

Another question of huge significance is whether the country of asylum participates in wrongdoing committed by the agent of persecution when it imposes an irrebuttable presumption on the claimant not to qualify as a refugee under the Refugee Convention. Miles Jackson explores the idea of attribution in Complicity in International Law, and asserts that countries “cooperate with each other and with non-state actors all the time, often virtuously but sometimes wrongfully.” Indeed, in Goldstein v. Sweden, an American asylum-seeker was subjected to systematic police persecution and surveilled after he actively worked to reveal police brutality and other misconduct by the police in the United States. Non-state actors destroyed Goldstein’s property and attacked him with chemical substances. Even though Goldstein’s reports to the police authorities had been to no avail, the Swedish Migration Board decided there was no evidence to show that the United States police authorities had persecuted Goldstein and found him “not in need of protection in Sweden.” Goldstein appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Although Sweden breached its international obligation to offer protection, the ECtHR decided the United States could obviate the risk of non-state actors by providing appropriate protection.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) reached a similar conclusion in (Re), 2014 CanLII 88897. In that case, applicants of Roma ethnicity in Hungary asserted Commandos forced themselves into their home and assaulted them. Their children were also assaulted on numerous occasions at school and on the bus. Although the applicants emphasized these attacks were racially motivated, the IRB rejected the appeal on grounds that Hungarian “police are being held accountable for their actions if they fail to take Roma complaints seriously or become agents of persecution of Roma citizens themselves.” While the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance encouraged Hungary to make further changes to continue its fight against racism, a recent report shows extensive discriminatory and abusive police practices against Roma still exist. What is more, many of the police officers interviewed in the report admitted to ethnic profiling. If the rule of attribution were applied, Hungary’s inaction would constitute a breach of its positive obligations to take measures to prevent violations committed by non-state actors, an obligation conditioned by a due diligence standard. With regard to Canada, Jackson suggests imposing a correlative duty of non-participation, as it would hold Canada responsible for its own contribution to the wrongdoing.

In both cases, the asylum-seekers laid out a plausible claim for international protection, and had it withheld because they were from countries that were considered “safe.” The appeals of asylum-seekers from “safe countries” are often not suspensive. In other words, these asylum-seekers will be deported to their country of origin pending the appeal decision, which The European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and EuroMed Rights argues, renders the right to recourse ineffective in practice. Others have also argued that the concept reduces safeguards on procedural standards, places an extra burden on applicants, and reduces their chance to be granted protection.

The presumption that a country is “safe” for all of its citizens has been criticized by NGOs and scholars. EuroMed Rights, AEDH, and FIDH also opposes the notion of “safe countries of origin,” and points to members of minority groups who can face specific discrimination in countries where the rest of the population is generally “safe.” Although the UNHCR likened the presumption to a form of discrimination, when its committees and councils disregard violations committed by state and non-state actors in democratic regimes, and fail to hold these regimes responsible for positive obligation breaches, it acquiesces to such violations.

It is not argued here that an applicant who cannot substantiate a risk regarding the lack of state protection should be bestowed Convention Refugee status. The contention is this: when a country of asylum connivingly uses an irrebuttable presumption to withhold international protection — believing a low rate of convictions before human rights tribunals is proof that there are few rights violations in that country — it should be held accountable for its role in the toleration of the private human rights violations. To be sure, Jackson suggests where complicity is found in an international law matter, accomplices must be held responsible for their own acts of contribution to the principal’s wrong.

Take, for example, the case of A. v. Migrationsverket. In that case, the Swedish authorities relied on the rebuttable presumption in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive for procedures based on the safe country of origin concept to withhold international protection from a Serbian national, despite the fact it did not fully implement the concept in legislation. The Court of Justice for the European Union held when a Member State has not implemented the concept of a safe country of origin into relevant laws, regulations, and administrative provisions, it cannot reject an asylum application as manifestly unfounded on the grounds that the applicant is from a safe country of origin.

Lastly, there is a widely circulated claim that asylum-seekers from democratic regimes are not “real refugees” but are “economic migrants.” However, this is a charge launched against genuine applicants to degrade them and undermine the rights that emerge from obtaining Convention Refugee status. Many of these asylum-seekers bear some of the most powerful passports in the world that enables them to enter countries that have cordially recognized free migration and emigration for purposes of curiosity, trade, or to remain as permanent residents. This observation should demystify the specious argument that asylum-seekers from democratic regimes are leveraging incriminating country of origin evidence and fabricated stories so as to enter and remain in a foreign country.

Immigration and refugee law makes clear that the right to asylum is not a right to abreaction. It is a right to have an application for international protection carried out on an individual basis. The most effective way to exercise this right is for the persecuted to leave their country, and to provide evidence that outweighs a general presumption that their country is safe. The country of asylum must adequately examine and consider such evidence. When countries of asylum adopt and enforce administrative edicts based on nationality, they not only suspend this fundamental right, but they also breach their obligation not to discriminate — a precept widely recognized under international anti-discrimination law. In the words of the late Desmond Tutu, to remain neutral in situations of injustice is to be complicit in that injustice.

Not a Refugee: Safe Country Nationals and the Withholding of International Protection was originally published on 5th January 2022.

Cork Asylum Seeker Turns to NASC for Support Amidst Human Rights Violations in Direct Provision

Cork Asylum Seeker Turns to NASC for Support Amidst Human Rights Violations in Direct Provision

Cork Asylum Seeker Turns to NASC for Support Amidst Human Rights Violations in Direct Provision via open letter below:

Hello Mrs. Hurley,

I hope this email finds you well. My name is Quianna Canada, and I am writing to you to request NASC’s assistance and support in communicating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On March 24, 2023, I published an article on my website urging the UNHCR to investigate Ireland’s coercive repatriation practices. Since the publication of the article, an authority figure has continued to curtail my efforts in reaching the UNHCR.

As an asylum seeker residing in Direct Provision, I have been exposed to cruel and unusual treatment and punishment which has negatively impacted my well-being. Unfortunately, I have not been permitted to communicate this dire situation to the UNHCR due to several reasons, one of which includes lack of access to proper channels of communication.

Considering your organization’s mandate to “link” asylum seekers to their rights, I am kindly requesting your assistance in acting as an intermediary between the UNHCR and I. I strongly believe that your support will not only help me, but will also help other asylum seekers who have been exposed to arbitrary and capricious treatment in this institution.

Cork Asylum Seeker Turns to NASC for Support Amidst Human Rights Violations in Direct Provision – Cites UNHCR Handbook

As you know, the right to contact a UNHCR representative is mentioned in the UNHCR Handbook (pp. 42-43, para. 192 (iv)). Indeed, any restrictions on an asylum seeker’s right to contact the UNHCR raises doubts as to Ireland’s compliance with international standards. 

The Council Directive 2005/85/EC further recognizes the importance of UNHCR’s involvement and regards it as a basic safeguard applicable to all types of asylum procedures. For instance, Article 10 (c) reads that asylum seekers:

“shall not be denied the opportunity to communicate with the UNHCR or with any other organization working on behalf of the UNHCR in the territory of the Member State pursuant to an agreement with that Member State…” Article 21 further states that Member States shall allow the UNHCR (a) to have access to applicants for asylum, and (b) to have access to information on individual applications for asylum, on the course of the procedure and on the decisions taken, provided that the applicant for asylum agrees…”

I really would like to work with NASC on this pressing issue and receive its support. I am also willing to meet with you in person to discuss this matter further.

Thank you very much for considering my request. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Quianna Canada 

How the In-group Uses Human Rights Defenders as Scapegoats

How the In-group Uses Human Rights Defenders as Scapegoats

How the In-group Uses Human Rights Defenders as Scapegoats

In recent years, it has become increasingly common for the in-group to use human rights defenders as scapegoats.

How the In-group Uses Human Rights Defenders as Scapegoats. Who Is More Susceptible?

This tactic is especially insidious in environments where people are less educated, such as refugee and asylum seeker populations, because it causes people to turn on each other instead of focusing on the real problems at hand, such as a housing crisis, the lack of adequate gun-control policies or inadequate legislation that fails to hold all law enforcement officers accountable for their actions. The in-group uses this technique to distract populations from their own shortcomings and to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

For example, the in-group may blame strife in a refugee camp on the human rights defender, rather than admitting their plan to enlist the cooperation of asylum seekers to help them repatriate a human rights defender contributed to the problem. This not only distracts from the real issues at hand, but it also demonises a vulnerable group of people who are often already marginalised and discriminated against.

Another example is when the in-group uses their positional power to portray human rights defenders as threatening and untrustworthy. Not only does this harm the human rights defender, it also makes them prone to more violence, harassment and discrimination, all in the name of protecting the interests of the group.

So, what can you do to combat this tactic?

The first step you can do is to recognise when it is happening. You need to be vigilant and critical of the messages you receive from the in-group, even if they offer you an attractive incentive for your participation in harming human rights defenders in your environment. You should also ask yourself who is really responsible for the problem presented before you. Often it is within the in-group, in light of the fact that the out-group often lacks power and does not have the rank required to make societal changes.

You should also resist the temptation to turn on one another. Instead, you should question both sides and ask: what are the goals of each party? This allows you to elaborate on all the information and to see what puzzle pieces are missing.

In conclusion, when the in-group uses human rights defenders as scapegoats, it is a dangerous and destructive tactic that undermines our social fabric and distracts us from the real concerns at issue. You must be critical and vigilant in order to combat this tactic, and to build a more just and equitable society for all.

In a State of Mourning: US Gun Contracts, the Middle East and the Victims Affected

In a State of Mourning: US Gun Contracts, the Middle East and the Victims Affected

In a State of Mourning: US Gun Contracts, the Middle East and the Victims Affected.

Several innocent and vulnerable people in the Middle East have lost their lives due illicit firearm contracts formed by the United States.

In a State of Mourning: US Gun Contracts, the Middle East and the Victims Affected – the Countries Impacted

YEMEN: There has been an ongoing conflict in Yemen that has been fuelled by arms sales and transfers from the United States to other countries, which has called for gun-control there and has led a coalition of Arab states in support of the Yemeni government. The conflict has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the region, including many civilians.

Reports indicate that dozens of Yemeni civilians, most of them children, were recently killed when an airstrike by U.S.-backed forces hit a bus in the rebel-held city of Dahyan.[1]

IRAQ: The United States has provided significant military aid and weaponry to the Iraqi government for multiple reasons. While this does not suggest the reasons are nefarious, some of these weapons have ended up in the hands of non-state actors, including extremist itself, which they have used to carry out attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.

As a result, many Iraqi civilians continue mourn lives lost as of the result of U.S. firearm contracts.[2]

To support this cause for peace and gun-control in the Middle East, please send appeals to the human rights bodies below Urging Them to Protect the Middle East from the United States’ Gun Contracts:

In a State of Mourning: US Gun Contracts, the Middle East and the Victims Affected
Courtesy of Quianna Canada


[1] Al-haj, A. (2018, August 9). Yemen rebels say Saudi coalition airstrike in North Kills 50. AP NEWS. Retrieved April 15, 2023, from

[2] Kotsonis, S., & Chakrabarti, M. (2023, March 30). The American invasion of Iraq through an Iraqi’s eyes. On Point. Retrieved April 15, 2023, from

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

U.S. leaders are becoming more cruel, vicious and unhinged, and are drifting into a leadership style that I call Kreeseism. This style of leadership is an eponymy of John Kreese, the main antagonist of The Karate Kid franchise.[1] Kreese instilled a dangerous philosophy of “no mercy” in his students and encouraged generations of bullies.[2] Today, toxic leaders use Kreeseism and their legitimate power to harm human rights defenders.

What is Kreeseism?

Kreeseism is a toxic leadership style that is cruel, vicious and unhinged. Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism instill a dangerous philosophy of “no mercy” and fear in conformers, and create a generation of bullies out of colluders.

Kreeseism Leaders “Throw Rocks” at Human Rights Defenders

One of the most common tactics of Kreeseism is to “throw rocks” at human rights defenders while hiding their hands. This metaphorical expression refers to a toxic leader’s use of covert and indirect methods to instigate harms against human rights defenders, while secretly provoking them.

With these methods, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism hope human rights defenders will react to their cloak-and-danger tactics. A situation as this is often advantageous for toxic leaders, as it gives them the opportunity to say, “See, I told you they are the problem.” It also allow these leaders to persecute human rights defenders while the toxic leader makes the argument that particular human rights defenders are “the problem.”

Toxic leaders, such as those who engage in Kreeseism, know others may be light on the human rights defenders’ biography and the causes they support. Therefore, toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism will misuse their legitimate power to inveigle others to assail human rights defenders—playing on the sheer ignorance of the ill-informed and impressionable—to stoke their fear of making waves, along with their need to feel protected.

What Does it Mean to “Throw Rocks” at Human Rights Defenders?

To “throw rocks” at human rights defenders means to use a range of tactics to undermine our work, reputation and credibility. These tactics can include:

1. Smear campaigns: Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism often use their media and propaganda machinery to launch smear campaigns against activists, portraying us as “trouble makers” and “menace to societies.” 

These campaigns can be particularly effective in situations where groups, NGOs and grassroots organizations have little time to elaborate on the facts, making decisions on heuristic factors, such as mugshots, unflattering pictures and 2-second sound bites.

2. Legal harassment: Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism use legal channels to intimidate human rights defenders. For example, these leaders use their legitimate power to influence court personnel, tribunal members and judges to make decisions in their favor. They also file baseless criminal charges against us for exercising our human rights. These tactics are often used to tie us up in lengthy legal battles, drain our resources, and discourage us from continuing our work.

3. Surveillance and monitoring: Toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism use sophisticated surveillance technologies to monitor human rights defenders’ communications, movements, and activities. This can include intercepting our phone calls and emails, tracking our social media posts, and even using drones to monitor our physical movements.

4. Violence and intimidation: In some cases, toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism may use violence and intimidation to silence human rights defenders. This can include excessive use of force by police, incommunicado detention and even exposure to torture. These tactics are increasing in democracies, where human rights are thought to be respected.

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy: Why do governments use these tactics?

Toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism use these tactics to maintain their power and control over society. Human rights defenders are seen as a threat to the status quo, and toxic leaders often see us as adversaries rather than partners in building a better society. By hiding their hands, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism can discredit us, undermine our work, and discourage others from joining our cause for peace and human rights.

By engaging in ad hominem attacks, rather than challenging us on the issues we are raising, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism can divert attention away from their own ill-treatment, human rights violations and international crimes in the State.

[1] John Kreese. The Karate Kid Wiki. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2023, from

[2] Id.

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester.

Texas Govenor, Gregg Abbott, says that he is swiftly working to pardon Daniel Perry, a U.S. Army sergeant in Austin, who a jury convicted of murdering Garrett Foster in 2020. Foster was a Black Lives Matter protester. Abbott has since directed the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider a pardon for Perry on an expedited basis. For instance, Abbott stated, “I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk.

 Cristina Ramirez criticizes Greg Abbott's Decision to Pardon Officer who Shot BLM Protestor
Courtesy of Cristina Ramirez

Abbotts’ move has been highly criticized by underrepresented groups in Texas. First, Cristina Ramirez Tweeted, “It’s time for Governor Abbott to listen to the people of Texas.” Ramirez went on to say Abbott should listen to the people “rather than to the voices of extreme conservatives and media personalities.” Joe Porter also Tweeted, “The racist governor of Texas is letting you know that murdering protesters is OK.” There were other voices, such as Black Aziz, who likened Abbotts’ move to Nazism, claiming that “Pardoning people who murder your political enemies is def something that the Nazis would do.”

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor  Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester
Courtesy of Joe Porter
Black Aziz said, "Pardoning people who murder your political enemies is def something that the Nazis would do."
Courtesy of Black Aziz aNANsi

Abbotts’ pledge to pardon Perry comes on the heels of evidence which showed Perry made numerous posts and direct messages on social media expressing his desire to shoot protesters in Austin, Texas. Irrespective of this evidence, Abbott is swiftly working to pardon the police officer.

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester. How Did Texans Get Here?

In 2021, Abbott Tweeted that he “signed SEVEN pieces of legislation into law protecting #2A rights in Texas — including constitutional carry & making Texas a #2A sanctuary state.” In other words, Texas is now the Gun State of the nation.

Abbott gloats over giving guns more protection in Texas
Courtesy of Texas Governor, Gregg Abbott

As attorney general, Abbott opposed gun-control legislation. Moreover, in 2013, Abbott criticized New York State legislators for expanding an assault weapons ban and creating a high-capacity magazine ban. During the same year, he articulated that he would sue if Congress enacted a new gun-control bill.

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor  Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester
Courtesy of Texas Governor, Gregg Abbott

In 2015, Abbott signed into law the right of Texans to carry firearms on campus, which may have spawned the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting and the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Nearly 95% of individuals who quoted Abbott’s Tweet either thanked or congratulated his move, or requested that the Texas Governor pardon more police officers who murder protesters.

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

International law jurists have struggled to define torture. One of the earliest attempts to define it was in the 1500s, where it was described as an “infliction of severe bodily pain as a means of punishment or persuasion.”[1]

Then in 1612, Italian jurist Sebastian Guazzini defined torture “as the distress of body devised for extracting truth.”[2]

When populations thinks of torture, their mind often travels to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba or some unknown top secret military site in the middle of nowhere.

But what if these acts—instead of occurring in some unknown black site across the world—are happening right in your own backyard?

Direct Provision was introduced by the Irish government as an emergency measure in 1999 to provide international protection applicants or asylum seekers with ‘…a range of State services, including food and accommodation.’ Its initial goal was to offer short-term accommodation for asylum seekers who were arriving in the country at the time. However, it has received averse publicity and has been a source of controversy over the years.

For instance, asylum seekers have mysteriously died in the institution, with the coroner’s office declaring the cause of death of these unknown. How are some of the most vulnerable persons, who have travelled miles over sea and land to achieve safety, dying in an institution that is supposed to protect them?

Reports continue to surface from tormented voices within direct provision that Officials are punishing individuals for seeking asylum in Ireland. It’s not quite like the Trump Administration—foil blanket for asylum seekers within detention centres punishment…it’s worse.

Testimony from the voices within Direct Provision, include but are not limited to, the alleged force feeding of asylum seekers, eviction of asylums seekers who complain about housing conditions, theft of an asylum seekers personal property by staff, and most surprisingly….torture.

One specific incident of torture is the use of high-technology noise. One of the earliest accounts of its use was in 1977, which was used on two Israeli prisoners who described the incident as strange noises that “disturbed their sleep.”[3] Although no reports of this kind of torture have been documented in decades, asylum seekers in Direct Provision are coming forward with claims of being subjected noises like those heard in the Frigidaire.

Although there have been marches in Ireland in recent weeks that over the presumption that asylum seekers are not being vetted, some argue the torture experienced in Direct Provision is being secretly used to vet particular asylum seekers or to forcibly repatriate them, and drive them out of Ireland.

Presently, the UN Declaration against Torture defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed, or intimidating him or other persons.”

But what does an individual do when (1) they have experienced persecution in their country of origin and cannot return, and (2) are being subjected to torture just for seeking asylum?

Want to learn more about the making of Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture? Email me here.


[1] Humanterm. (n.d.). Torture. Universidad Europea. Available at:

[2] Rejali, D. M. (2009). Torture and democracy. Princeton University Press.

[3] Id.

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