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On 26.05.2017 the United Kingdom’s Court of Appeal[1] unanimously ruled that the Home Secretary of 2014, Theresa May, acted unlawfully by refusing to examine the possibility to allow the entrance of a group of refugees, which had arrived at the British Bases in Cyprus 19 years ago, in the UK. KISA expresses its contentment with this decision, as it seems that the refugees involved are winning the fight for their rights after long, multi-leveled attempts.

Since their arrival in Cyprus, KISA consistently supported these refugees, whilst, since 2006, through a memorandum[2], we publicly stated our opinion on the matter, by asking the UK to assume responsibility, deriving from International Law, by allowing these refugees to settle in the UK where they could enjoy their rights as refugees. The UK’s refusal to comply with International Law and the continuous violation of rights of this particular group of refugees, lead KISA to take action judicially, so that the refugees could access their rights.

KISA, in the context of strategic litigation, initially, through the law firm Nicoletta Charalambidou L.L.C, filed a case to the British Bases’ Court, which rejected the refugees’ requests with an, essentially, political decision[3]. Subsequently, after a failed attempt at the British Bases’ Court, KISA proceeded to file cases at the British Court through the law firm Leigh Day.[4]  The UK’s Court of Appeal decision ruled that, in contrast with the UK’s Government position, the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees (the Convention) is directly applied to the British Bases in Cyprus, because of the extension of application of the Convention in Cyprus while the latter was a British colony, confirming the refugees’ initial position at the British Bases Court. As a result, the UK must meet its obligations towards the refugees and their families in accordance with public international law. The court also noted that the UK has sufficient funds to meet these obligations deriving from the Convention, while it stressed that it expects the refugees’ resettlement to the UK to take place immediately.

The six families of refugees who applied before the British justice system, are included in the group of 75 people who arrived by sea in October 1998 at the British Bases in Cyprus. Ever since, the six families are forced to live in substandard conditions in former military quarters in the British Bases area.

Finally, KISA congratulates both the refugees for the determination and perseverance they have shown all these years in claiming their rights, as well as the lawyers in Cyprus and the United Kingdom for the cooperation and insistence and consistency they have shown throughout, for the defense of the British Bases refugees’ rights.

KISA Steering Committee

30.05.2017

[1] You can read the decision here: https://goo.gl/A7nbEO

[2] http://tiny.cc/aw0fly

[3]http://www.sbaadministration.org/images/court/css/Judicial_Reviews_Appeals/20110913_Appeal_JMT_Richomond_Villagers_JRA1_11_SR.pdf

[4] https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/News-2017/May-2017/Court-of-Appeal-finds-Theresa-May-acted-unlawfully

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