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Constitution and governance

This fact was correct when it was updated on 15 Nov 2023

What is non-refoulement?

The principle of non-refoulement guarantees that a person cannot be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm. The principle applies regardless of migration status (e.g. if a person is an asylum-seeker, a refugee or a migrant).

A country violates the principle of non-refoulement if they send the person to a third country where they are at risk of refoulment, or being sent to the country of origin where their life or freedom would be threatened.

The principle of non-refoulement also forms part of customary international law, and is also protected within a number of international conventions and treaties (that the UK is signatory to) including the United Nations Refugee Convention, the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984, and the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.

It has been given legal effect in a number of domestic UK laws, including the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993, the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, and the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004, as well as the Human Rights Act 1998.

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