London firm prepared to act against Danish government over Syria refugees

London firm prepared to act against Danish government over Syria refugees
The Danish government's policy, which allows the return of Syrian refugees to a Syria it has declared 'safe', defies the Geneva Convention's non-refoulement principle.
2 min read
29 July, 2021
Denmark designated parts of Syria as "safe" for the return of refugees in 2019 [Getty]

London chambers Guernica 37 says it is ​prepared to act against the Danish government due to its attempts to return hundreds of Syrian refugees to Damascus.

Guernica 37 , an international law firm that specialises in human rights cases, is working with asylum lawyers and affected families to challenge Copenhagen's policy, which defies the Geneva Convention's non-refoulement principle.

Copenhagen designated some parts of Syria as "safe" - including the capital Damascus - back in 2019, and since then began withdrawing residency permits from Syrian refugees.

Carl Buckley, the Guernica 37 barrister leading preparations, told The New Arab that "there is no specific case currently, but an intention to take a case if one arises".

A case would most likely be taken up with the European Court of Human Rights, Buckley said.

"A case would be successful if any tribunal ruled that attempts to forcibly repatriate Syrian refugees as unlawful and therefore preventing such action from being taken."

No country signed up to the convention can expel or return a refugee to where their life may be at risk, according to the principle.

In a strategy note quoted in The Guardian, Guernica 37 said: "The situation in Denmark is deeply concerning. While the risk of direct conflict-related violence may have diminished in some parts of Syria, the risk of political violence remains as great as ever, and refugees returning from Europe are being targeted by regime security forces."

"If the Danish government's efforts to forcibly return refugees to Syria is successful, it will set a dangerous precedent, which several other European states are likely to follow."

The government's revocation of residencies has sparked outcry from human rights groups, who said Syria was not safe enough for people to return to.

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Protests in solidarity with refugees have taken place in Denmark and elsewhere, including London.

Denmark passed a law in June that would allow it to relocate asylum seekers to a third country while their applications are processed, sparking condemnation for the United Nations and the United States.