Title UNHCR intervention before the House of Lords in the case of Yasin Sepet and Erdem Bulbul (Appellants) v. the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent)
Publisher UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Publication Date 8 January 2003
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Turkey
Topics Combatants / Former combatants | Military service / Conscientious objection / Desertion / Draft evasion / Forced conscription
Related Document Sepet (FC) and Another (FC) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department
Cite as UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR intervention before the House of Lords in the case of Yasin Sepet and Erdem Bulbul (Appellants) v. the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent), 8 January 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3e5ba7f02.html [accessed 25 July 2014]
Comments This case concerns two Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin whose asylum claims are based on their objection to performing military service in Turkey. Although neither objected to military service as such, both objected to possible participation in military activities that could be directed against members of their own ethnic group (so-called partial conscientious objection). While staying clear of the facts of this case, UNHCR is using this submission to demonstrate to the House of Lords that the notion of persecution cannot be put into a narrowly defined doctrinal straightjacket but needs to be open and flexible to focus on the very individual predicament of a person from the perspective of refugee law. The notion of persecution is therefore not preconditioned by the existence of a codified human right. The submission provides an interesting historical overview of how refusal to perform military service has traditionally been considered an offence which was covered by the political offence exemption in the context of extradition law and was therefore always part and parcel of the institution of asylum. It furthermore makes the point that human rights law is an important source aiding the task of interpreting the 1951 Convention. In this context it is argued that the right to conscientious objection is at least an emerging human right. The submission also strongly refutes any possible argument that would read into the refugee definition a requirement of motivation by the persecutor. UNHCR's legal counsel in this case are Nicholas Blake and Tim Eicke.