WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange will have been arbitrarily detained by the UK at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for five years as of Monday June 19, 2017 (nearly seven years in the UK total). There are many valuable lessons in the case for the international human rights system, refugee law and diplomatic relations.

An Amicus brief has been filed in Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The essential points of the Amicus brief are these:

1. states have the right and sometimes the duty to grant asylum in areas of effective control  such as embassies; a related practice is seen in UN compounds

2. the importance of this norm is increasingly seen in its actual and potential contribution to saving lives and keeping order by assessing refugees at or near their source of origin

3. the host state (the state that the embassy etc. is located in) has positive and negative duties in relation to the asylum granted

4. should the host state not facilitate enjoyment of the asylum or remove the underlying threat that gave rise to it the asylum seeker will eventually suffer indefinite detention by virtue of their ongoing confinement

5. the indefinite detention of an asylum seeker is a form of arbitrary detention creating additional obligations on the host state to restore freedom of movement to the asylum seeker

6. in practice most host states resolve the actual or threatened arbitrary detention of such asylum seekers through safe passage out of the territory or by removing the underlying threat

(the US continues its attempts to bring a prosecution against Mr. Assange for revealing human rights abuses by its military and secret services; the UK continues its attempt to arrest him for applying for asylum in the first instance as a claimed “bail violation” of his house arrest conditions; Sweden dropped its extradition warrant and closed its investigation after finally taking his statement last year–he was never charged. details:¬†https://justice4assange.com/).

The English translation of the Amicus brief is here: Amicus_brief_English