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Modern Sanctuary

  • Teresa Sutton (a1)

The history of the ancient concept of sanctuary has been discussed in the pages of this Journal in earlier volumes. In response to Professor Baker's article, Fr Robert Ombres, O.P. wrote to the Journal to inform readers that sanctuary had recently been used in America and Britain. The use of this ‘modern sanctuary’ has been the subject of some lively discussion at a recent London meeting and in Cardiff amongst the Canon Law LLM students. This article seeks to address some of the contemporary issues regarding the modern use of sanctuary in Britain and continental Europe today.

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1 Baker, J. H.. ‘The English Law of Sanctuary’ (1990) 2 Ecc LJ 8. Field, T.. ‘Biblical Influences on the Medieval and Early Modern English Law of Sanctuary’ (1991) 2 Ecc LJ 222.

2 (1990)2 Ecc LJ 121.

3 ‘Sanctuary Past and Present’ presented by the author at the London meeting on 12th July 1995 and as a lecture in Cardiff on the LLM programme on 15th July 1995.

4 The author is grateful for the comments made on the paper but wishes to emphasise that the opinions expressed in this article are her own and do not necessarily represent those of either discussion group.

5 21 Jac. I.e. 28. s. 6 & 7(1623–4).

6 Ryan, W. C.. ‘The Historical Case for the Right of Sanctuary’ (1987) Journal of Church and State 209232. 229.

7 Sanctuary was often used as a means of preventing a trial unlike benefit of clergy which was used as a plea at trial.

8 Letter from Fr Robert Ombres O.P. (1990) 2 Ecc LJ 121. Jones, W. R. ‘Sanctuary. Exile, and the Law: The Fugitive and Public Authority in Medieval England and Modern America’ in English Law ami the American Experience Cawthon, E. A. and Narrett, D. E. eds.. (Texas. 1994). 35.

9 For information on the American sanctuary movement: Bau, I.. This Ground is Holy (New Jersey. 1985).

10 Churches Commission for Racial Justice Discussion Paper (CCRJ). The Churches, Immigration Law and Sanctuary (1995).

11 Weller, P.. The Multi-faith Dimensions of Sanctuary in the United Kingdom (1989) 17 Pamphlet Library No. 21 Centre for the Study of Religion and Society. University of Kent at Canterbury.

12 One Minister of State observed that Mendis'‘… participation in political opposition to the Sri Lankan government, and his willingness to be identified in that cause, increased quite disproportionately alter he had been obliged by circumstances to make an application lor political asylum.’ [1988] Imm AR 12. Cohen, R.. Frontiers of Identity: The British and Others (London. 1994). 148.

13 Community and Race Relations Unit of the British Council of Churches (CRRU ). Why Sanctuary:' (1989). This booklet contains details of a number of cases.

14 Briefing (20 01 1988) 3139. 39.

15 CRRU. Why Sanctuary? 29.

16 For general discussion on Christian opposition to unjust law: Mackie, S. G.. Civil Disobedience as Christian Obedience (London. 1983).

17 CCRJ. The Churches. Immigration and Sanctuary 1.

18 Article 14(2) provides that ‘[t]his right may not he invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.’

19 Dummett, A. and Nicol, A.. Subjects. Citizens -Aliens and Others (London. 1990). 280.

20 Together with subsequent Protocols.

21 Sieghart, P.. The International Law of Human Rights (Oxford. 1983). 190. Feldman, D.. Civil Liberties and Human Rights in England and Wales (Oxford. 1993). 328.

22 1 A(2).

23 For information on practice: 1. MacDonald, A. and Blake, N. J.. Immigration Law and Practice in the United Kingdom (London. 1991). 290.

24 This issue is also relevant for the discussion of the use of sanctuary in other European countries included later in this article.

25 CRRU. Why Sanctuary? 24.

26 CCRJ. The Churches, Immigration and Sanctuary 23.

27 For general information: Supperstone, M. and O'Dempsey., D.Immigration: The Law and Practice (London. 1994).

28 Archibold. Criminal Pleading. Evidence and Practice (London. 1994) 25158. R. v. Mistry. R. v. Asare [1980] Criminal Law Review 177.

29 Where a person is hidden or ‘goes to ground’ within the private house of an individual.

30 CCRJ. The Churches. Immigration Law and Sanctuary.

31 Mason, R. and Forbes, D.. Nearest Place of Safety (Brussels. 1994) Quaker Council for European Affairs 55.

32 Two hundred within Holland. Some signatures are representative of a number of churches. Mason, and Forbes, . Nearest Place of Safety 55.

33 CRRU. Why Sanctuary? 42.

34 Mason, and Forbes, . Nearest Place of Safety 5659.

35 Dutch Council of Churches, commissie justitia et pax nederland. Church Sanctuary (1993). I am grateful to The Rev. Mr. Haslam at the Churches Commission for Racial Justice for providing this and Assistance not Resistance.

36 ‘Churches Take on Bonn Over Asylum-seekers’ International Herald Tribune (18 June 1994).

37 Mason, and Forbes, , Nearest Place of Safety 56.

38 EKD Bulletin No. 4. Assistance Not Resistance (1994).

39 The Daily Telegraph (6 May 1995).

40 As at July 1995.

41 The paper has been commended to churches for discussion and comment. Copies are available from CCJR. Interchurch House. 35. Lower Marsh. London. SE1 7RL.

42 ‘Howard Acts to Stem Asylum Seekers’. The Times (1 July 1995).

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Ecclesiastical Law Journal
  • ISSN: 0956-618X
  • EISSN: 1751-8539
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