Political Asylum

Meaning of Political Asylum

The term asylum refers to the help, shelter or protection offered to a person. Political, on the other hand, is a concept with several uses: in this case we are interested in its meaning as that linked to political activity (the actions developed to manage or administer public affairs).

According to DigoPaul, the asylum is the assistance that is given to a foreign individual who had to flee or were expelled from their country for reasons related to politics. This type of asylum is usually understood as the right of a subject not to be extradited from one nation to another who seeks to punish him for his political opinions or activities.

On the other hand, there is the concept of diplomatic asylum, which serves to describe the permanence in an extension of the national territory of a person persecuted by his country to be tried for a political crime. Among the sites that are considered part of this group, according to diplomatic conventions, we have the following: the ambassador’s residence, a warship temporarily anchored in a foreign port, the seat of the consulate or embassy.

The poet and jurist Hugo Grocio, born in the Netherlands on April 10, 1583, one of the greatest defenders of the absolute State, was the author of the extraterritoriality thesis of Embassies and Legations, where he expressed that diplomatic asylum occurred naturally when the persecuted was received on foreign soil, which is why protection was not only given if he managed to cross the borders of his country but also if he was isolated in an Embassy or Legation of a foreign country. Currently, this type of asylum is not recognized by international law.

The history of the asylum is extensive and its history is worthy of careful study to appreciate its evolution. At first, it was a measure within the scope of religion, which was carried out to provide protection to individuals who violated the law without participating in conflicts of a political nature, that is, common criminals. Since the rulers did not show any kind of pity for these people, the asylum was exclusively dedicated to them, leaving out political criminals.

The Reform generated an investment in this point of view, and so over the years this social institution began to target people persecuted by the rulers for their ideals, and ceased to benefit ordinary criminals.

With regard to the space in which political asylum can be offered, it is worth mentioning that from antiquity and until times after the Middle Ages religious buildings were used; today, on the other hand, all the lands of a foreign State are used to grant political asylum.

The right of asylum is regulated by various international standards that establish obligations and responsibilities for host countries and for individuals who request asylum. The purpose of political asylum is to protect the person who, because of her ideas or her political actions, suffers persecution in her country. If the host country rejects asylum and the individual must return to their land, they may be imprisoned or otherwise punished there.

With respect to the extension of the right of political asylum, we must distinguish the following four points: the right that a country has to grant asylum to an individual persecuted by its government; the active exercise of said right; the tolerance of such exercise; the acceptance of political asylum as a concept that allows protecting a person against political persecution.

Political Asylum

About the author