By Professor Cesare Romano, Director, and Adjunct Professor Veronica Aragon, Deputy Director, International Human Rights Clinic, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
Does domestic violence constitute valid ground to claim refugee status? Encouragingly, the answer is increasingly yes, and Loyola’s own International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) is trying help moving international law in that direction.
In concert with human rights organization Asylum Access Ecuador (AAE), Loyola’s International Human Rights Clinic filed a case today before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) seeking to recognize domestic violence as grounds for refugee status. It is one of the first cases of its kind to be brought before a United Nations body.
The case, regarding a Colombian woman who had been subjected to severe domestic violence and subsequently denied refugee status in Ecuador, argues that domestic violence should be grounds for refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention. It also aims to ensure that refugee status determination proceedings at the national level are non-discriminatory and gender-sensitive.