First-world asylum seekers


I am looking for information, both statistical and anecdotal, on citizens of first-world nations who seek and are granted asylum protection by other countries. I am aware of only one well-publicized case, namely that of Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald, an American citizen, entered the USSR on a tourist visa where he petitioned the authorities for protection on vaguely political grounds. His request was initially denied, but he persuaded the authorities to change their mind by promising them military secrets, and by a spectacular yet unsuccessful suicide attempt to let them know he was serious about not wanting to return.

Does anyone know of any other cases where a natural-born citizen of Canada, Australia, America, etc. was granted political asylum by another country? I’m not so much interested in cases where the asylum seeker is a spy or military officer offering to defect, but rather in cases where the seeker genuinely believes herself to be the target of persecution by her home country because of her race, religion, political beliefs, or social affiliation. For example, has Canada ever granted asylum to American draftees who refused to enlist because of a political objection to military service? (According to the Selective Service, political beliefs are not grounds for classification as a conscientious objector, whereas according to the Geneva Convention, political beliefs can indeed form the basis of an application for asylum.)

I vaguely remember the case of a murderer in the 'States who fled to France, which then denied the USA’s demands for extradition.

I’ve frequently been tempted to claim asylum in the UK on the grounds that the US is a violent place with an illegitimate and corrupt government, where the odds of me getting shot are high and the news media is biased toward the inane and fluffy. But I’m afraid they’d take me seriously.

IIRC someone from the US has offically and successfullyclaimed aslyum in the UK, due to persecution there.

Usually such cases involve capital crimes where the perpetrator flees to a country which has no death penalty. Extradition is often secured once the petitioning country agrees not to pursue the death penalty.

Anyway, this isn’t exactly the sort of case I had in mind, since I would imagine that the perpetrator would most likely be imprisoned anyway during his stay abroad.

Here’s a story about a group of Americans claiming asylum in Canada:

Speaker, I think you’re thinking of the Ira Einhorn case. France didn’t grant asylum to Einhorn, they just declined to extradite until Pennsylvania agreed to grant a re-trial (Pennsylvania had tried and convicted Einhorn in absentia because the limitation period was running out). I think they also requested a guarantee that he would not be executed if convicted. Once those conditions were met, they extradited him.

psychonaut, there was decision of the Supreme Court of Canada 10 years which held that an Irish citizen could claim refugee status in Canada. See: Attorney General of Canada v. Ward.

The facts were a bit unusual. Ward was an Irish Protestant, living in Ireland. He joined a Protestant para-military group and was assigned to guard some innocent hostages. When he realised that the para-military group was going to kill the hostages, he released them and fled himself. The para-military group then held a court-martial and sentenced him to death. The Irish government officials admitted that they likely could not protect him from the para-military group.

The Supreme Court held that the inability of the Irish government to protect him, coupled with the reasonable apprehension of that he would be killed by the para-military group because of his conscientious objection to killing the innocent hostages, qualified as a potential persecution on the basis of his political belief.

However, the Court referred the matter back to the Canadian refugee board to consider one other aspect. Ward was also a citizen of the United Kingdom, and it was not clear on the record whether he could have entered the U.K., thus getting away from the situation in Ireland. I don’t know what happened to that further hearing in front of the Board.

Numerous spies from assorted countries have learned they were blown, fled the country they were spying in and requested assylum in the countries they were spying for.

Well, it seems Canada has been accepting asylum applications from muslims fleeing the US government but the numbers have become so great they are overwhelmed and are now turning them back.

Christopher Skase from Australia has been hiding out in Spain for the last couple of years despite Australias efforts to extradite him.

France will not extradite anyone who is facing the death penalty. This became an issue in the Ira Einhorn case, as Northern Piper said.

For the record to the OPer, the Soviet Union was the second world in the first-second-third tier. The “free democratic capitalist” West was the First World, the Soviet Union and its evil Communist friends were the Second World, and everyone else was lumped into the Third World.

Indeed, I was aware of this distinction; it’s largely what prompted my question. 3rd->1st and 2nd->1st asylum seekers are pretty common (my mother, in fact, being in the latter category). Given the appalling conditions in many of the world’s poorest regions, I imagine even 3rd->2nd was not unusual. But it’s rare that you hear of anyone going 1st->2nd, and 1st->3rd is (at least for me) completely unheard of. I hadn’t heard of any 1st->1st cases either until some of the posts in this thread. (By all means, keep them coming!)

No country in the European Union can legally extradite anyone facing the DP. It’s the law. If the country desiring extradition will issue a binding statement that the suspect/criminal in question won’t be executed, the extradition will follow the normal rules as regards evidence etc.

Aren’t the Vietnam-War-era American draft dodgers an example of this? Did Canada grant them refugee status, or just make it easy for them to become landed immigrants, or what?

I don’t think it was necessary for U.S. draft dodgers to apply for refugee status, because draft dodging was not an extraditable offence.

As I understand it, extradition works on the requirement of dual criminality: extradition only occurs if the alleged offence is an offence in both countries. Murder is an offence in Canada and the U.S., so it will be covered by the extradition treaty. Canada hasn’t had conscription since WWII, so the U.S. offence alleged against the draft-dodgers wasn’t an offence in Canada, therefore not covered by the treaty.

Now, as a matter of immigration law, there may have been some extra work needed by the individual in question, as the usual rule is that a foreign national can’t apply for permanent residency or work visas from within Canada. But there is some discretion built into the system - I don’t know if it was used extensively for the case of draft dodgers or not.

I presume that the new Safe Third Country treaty makes it impossible for an American to claim refugee status in Canada or vice versa. The treaty says that a person cannot claim refugee status in one of the two countries if s/he arrived in the other first.

I presume this includes arrival through the birth canal as well as through customs. More seriously, it means if you are leaving some dreadful place to travel to Canada, and you have to change planes at JFK, you’re screwed, as I understand it.

There was a group of “Japan Red Army” members who hijacked an airliner in 1970 and successfully defected to North Korea. Does that count? The surviving members returned to Japan last year (or possibly thrown out by the North Korean government).

Northern Piper, a couple corrections: Patrick Ward was not a member of a “Protestant” (loyalist) paramilitary but of the Irish National Liberation Army, a republican group which broke away from the Official IRA in 1974. Also, he was from Northern Ireland so there was no question that he was a citizen of the UK; the issue was whether he would have been obliged to seek safety in (the Republic of) Ireland before claiming asylum elsewhere.

A number of Irish republicans from the six counties have sought asylum in the US on the grounds the British government could not protect them from loyalist paramilitaries. The only one I’m aware of having been successful was Brian Pearson.