Definitional uncertainties of political crimes in European extradition law: What is the impact on asylum law?

Project Details


Traditionally, political crimes are not extraditable crimes in Europe. This principle was initially set up for ideological reasons. Indeed, in the aftermath of the French revolution, whose shockwave radiated all across Europe, it was unthinkable that those who uprose against tyranny and defended democratic values should be sent back to their oppressors. They were secured asylum. However, over the past decades, more and more conventions on extradition and on terrorism have progressively "de-politicized" political crimes to make them extraditable. This was made possible
by two concomitant elements. First, to this day, there is no commonly agreed legal definition of political crimes that would crystallize their content. Indeed, without such a definition, the conventions on extradition and terrorism can easily depoliticize offences, without having to provide a justification for changing something that was not defined in the first place. Secondly, if terrorism and political crimes are morally distinguishable, they are not in essence. Indeed, both have recourse to political violence, and both carry ideological/political purposes. In a context where political offenders are not secured asylum anymore, and in the light of the war on terror currently ranking as first priority, this thesis enquires whether political activists who would have conducted a political fight in their country of origin, potentially using political violence, have a fair chance of getting asylum in the EU.
Effective start/end date1/10/1830/09/22



Flemish discipline codes

  • European law