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(Part 1)

Protection of Refugees in Shariah and International Law

Legal Framework for Protecting Refugees

That is the reason why there has been a special legal framework of protection laid down for refugees in many international instruments, starting from the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the two additional protocols of 1977, and then (with more focus on refugees) the Geneva Convention of 1951 and its protocol of 1967.

In addition to this, there is a very strong and broader framework of legal protection for refugees on the well-known Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948. Article 14 (1) of this Declaration states that; “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”.

This is in addition to the two popular covenants of 1966: (the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).  All these international instruments, in addition to other treaties and conventions, formulate the bedrock of International Human Rights Law (IHRL).

Refugees also enjoy recognizable status and protection in many regional instruments, such as the American Declaration for the Rights and Duties of Man (1948), the American Convention on Human Rights (1969), the European Convention on Human Rights (1950), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1981) and the Arab Charter on Human Rights (2004).

All these legal instruments affirm the right of every human to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries. Thus these legal instruments establish a system through which refugees will be provided with protection.

The Right to Seek Asylum in Islam

In Islam, the right to seek asylum and enjoy protection is firmly based on the humanitarian principles of brotherhood, equality and tolerance through which the religion aims to spread peace and love among all human beings.

As stressed by Prof. Ahmed Abul Wafa’, Professor at Cairo University’s Faculty of Law, relieving suffering and assisting, sheltering and granting safety to the needy, even enemies, are an integral part of the Islamic Shariah which preceded by many centuries current international human rights treaties and norms, including the right to asylum and the principle of non-refoulement which are to preserve the refugees’ life and ensure their well-being.

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