Asylum, Right of
Asylum, Right of
the right of safe habitation within the territory of a state as granted by that state to persons who are persecuted in their own country or elsewhere for political, scientific, scholarly, or religious views or activities. The right of asylum has been known since antiquity and has existed in three forms: territorial, religious, and diplomatic. Territorial asylum is the protection granted to a persecuted individual within the territory of another country. Religious asylum is the sheltering of the persecuted individual in places of religious worship, such as churches, chapels, or at roadside crosses. Diplomatic asylum is the offer of protection in embassies and consulates.
In contemporary international law, only territorial asylum is generally recognized. Religious asylum, which is essentially an internal state matter, has been preserved only in Iran, where it is known as best. The granting of asylum in diplomatic and consular offices is most widespread in Latin-American countries, which have concluded a number of agreements among themselves designating the conditions under which such asylum may be offered; among these agreements is the Havana Convention of 1928.
Each state individually defines by law the persons who may be offered territorial asylum. The Constitution of the USSR grants asylum to foreigners who are persecuted for defending the interests of workers; for participating in revolutionary and national liberation movements; or for their progressive sociopolitical, scientific, or other creative activity. Once afforded political asylum, émigrés are usually granted certain rights such as civil rights and work rights; provision is made for their not being extradited or deported.
International law prohibits the granting of asylum to persons accused of committing international crimes—such as crimes against peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide—and common criminal offenses. The extradition of such persons is provided for under multilateral agreements to combat slavery, slave trading, illegal narcotics traffic, counterfeiting, and other such crimes and under bilateral agreements between individual states.
The bourgeois states often use the institution of asylum to protect war criminals and common criminals.