Friday, July 19, 2013

British Appeals Court Upholds Asylum Denial; Returning Boy To Be Circumcised and Rasied As Muslim Does Not Violate His Rights

In SS (Malaysia) v. Secretary of State, (EWCA, July 18, 2013), Britain's Court of Appeal, upheld the denial of asylum to a Roman Catholic woman from Malaysia visiting England and to her 6 year old son.  The woman, whose husband (still in Malaysia) had recently converted to Islam, objected to the fact that if she returned her husband would insist their son be raised as a Muslim and circumcised.  The court concluded that returning the mother and her son to Malaysia would not violate their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. The court said in part:
C himself is only 6 years of age and although he has been baptised a Christian and admitted into the Roman Catholic church, there is no reason to think that he has as yet formed any independent religious faith. He will be able to make his own decisions about religious matters when he grows up..... 
Male circumcision is a widespread religious and cultural practice which has ancient origins....  Although invasive in nature and not commanding universal approval, it is regarded as an acceptable practice among communities of all kinds, provided it is carried out under appropriate conditions.... It is not necessary for the purposes of this appeal to decide whether circumcision may under certain circumstances involve an infringement of the child's rights under article 3 or 8 of the Convention. The tribunal's findings make it clear that in this case C would have the positive emotional support of his father and that he would be conforming to the broad expectations of the culture and society in which he would grow up.
[Thanks to Paul de Mello for the lead.]