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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Mubarak Is Not Eligible for Asylum

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 After 30 years of autocratic rule, the people of Egypt have forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.  There has been much talk about Mr. Mubarak seeking asylum abroad, but does he qualify for asylum under international law?  I think the answer is an unqualified "No!"


When your photo is crossed out AND burned, you know it's time to go.

A person who faces a well founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or particular social group, may qualify for asylum.  However, one who "ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person" on account of a protected ground is barred from asylum.  Under this provision, Mr. Mubarak is barred from receiving asylum.


Here are some reports about Mr. Mubarak's Egypt.  First, from the U.S. State Department:


The government's respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses continued in many areas.  The government limited citizens' right to change their government and continued a state of emergency that has been in place almost continuously since 1967.  Security forces used unwarranted lethal force and tortured and abused prisoners and detainees, in most cases with impunity....  Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, in some cases for political purposes, and kept them in prolonged pretrial detention.


Amnesty International reports:


The government continued to use state of emergency powers to detain peaceful critics and opponents....  Some were held under administrative detention orders; others were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials before military courts.  Torture and other ill-treatment remained widespread in police cells, security police detention centres and prisons, and in most cases were committed with impunity.


And this, from the Daily Beast:


Few know the cruelty of Mubarak's regime better than [Kareem] Amer, who spent the last four years in prison for criticizing the dictator and "insulting" Islam on his blog.  When I asked him to describe Mubarak's record, he said: "Many human-rights activists and journalists were imprisoned during his reign.  Some were beaten and tortured.  Others were abducted or disappeared without a trace.  The most important of these incidents was the disappearance of the Egyptian journalist Reda Helal in the heart of Cairo in 2003.  Many believe the security services were behind the abduction because of his political views."


Mr. Mubarak has been an ally of the U.S. and he respected the peace treaty with Israel, but he was a human rights abuser who held power by torturing and killing his own people.  With such a record, it is clear that Mr. Mubarak would be barred from asylum under international law. 

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