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EU citizen victim of trafficking denied asylum

ZV (Lithuania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 1196 analyses the strict tests set by the court when an EU national wants to claim asylum in the UK and the principle of ‘Exceptional Circumstances’. The usual rule is that EU citizens can only apply for Asylum under exceptional circumstances. This principle is derived from EU law and currently contained in the immigration rules. Parliament plans to place this principle in the Nationality and Borders Bill. This principle is based on the assumption that an EU state will not prosecute its members unjustifiably and if a third entity tried to do so, that the EU state will provide protection to it's individual members. In theory the rule seems very sensible, as it was setup to prevent granting asylum to wrong doers and criminals within continental Europe. In reality, the harshness of this rule is demonstrated in the new case od ZV. ZV was a Lithuanian citizen who was a victim of human trafficking. She was horribly abused, abducted, and trafficked on more than one occasion into the UK. After ZV was freed and the traffickers deported, ZV claimed asylum in the UK and her claim was refused stating she had not proven exceptional circumstances. This was because of the fact that as a EU member state Lithuania is assumed to be able to provide protection to its citizens without the interference of a third party. Unfortunately, ZV had to take her claim all the way to the Court of Appeal just to be rejected once more. In this instance the court lays down a very strict requirement of proof when it comes to providing evidence of exceptional circumstances.

This case sets a precedent which leaves a group of individuals who are arguably one of the most volunerable groups in society at risk of harm without protection.

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