Contributed by Ben Wilson
Julian Assange has won a significant new victory in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica. The Court handles cases relating to human rights relating to members of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Assange benefits from this. The Court determined that it is the duty of nations to allow the passage of successful asylum seekers from embassies to the mainland territory of the state. That has granted the individual asylum.
It means that both Ecuador and Britain have a legal duty to allow Assange to leave the Embassy in London, without arrest, and be guarantee safe transit to Ecuador.
The decision is based on the American Convention on Human Rights and article XXVII of the American Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man. The Court concluded, that the right to seek and receive asylum and receive protection in a foreign country are human rights. Refugee status is defined under United Nations Instruments and corresponding national laws. The court rules that the conventions also apply to third states.
There is no guarantee that Britain will comply. Prior decisions made by international bodies over the Assange case have been ignored. the policy to arrest him and hand him over to the United States has remained, to be tried for treason remains. The fact that Assange is not an American Citizen has not made any difference. What might make some difference is that as government reeling form internal division, its mishandling of Brexit and immensely unpopular, does not need further international embarrassment. At the least, the case to pursue Assange has been weakened further.
But it might be important in regard to how Ecuador is going to react. When Julian Assange first entered the Embassy, the government of this country was sympathetic, allowed him refuge and gave him Ecuadoran citizenship. The current government is much less sympathetic, has a warmer relationship with the United states, and is being pressured by the United States, Britain and Spain to hand him over. A decision has been eminent.
The ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights means that Ecuador is now pressured, to not hand over Assange. At the very least, the stalemate looks like continuing.