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Foreigners: Wanted Dead or Alive?

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Medical Cases before European Courts and the Need for an Integrated Approach to Non-Refoulement

While non-refoulement is an absolute principle of international human rights law, its application to seriously ill individuals exposed to premature death and physical and mental suffering because of the substandard medical system in their country of origin seems to have followed a double standard in Europe. On the one hand, medical cases are increasingly treated at the margin of the non-refoulement principle by the European Court of Human Rights, being only covered in highly exceptional cases. On the other hand, seriously ill individuals have been excluded from the scope of subsidiary protection in the European Union as confirmed by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Against such restrictive interpretations, the present article calls for an integrated approach where all non-refoulement claims, including those on medical grounds, are to be assessed along the same criteria so as to ensure seriously ill individuals a genuine right to live in dignity.

Affiliations: 1: Global Migration Centre p.o. Box 136, 1211 Geneva 21Switzerland


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