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IMMIGRATION/HUMAN RIGHTS: EM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2006] EWCA Civ 1531

Date:21 NOV 2006

(Court of Appeal; Carnwath and Gage LJJ and Bodey J, 21 November 2006)

The Lebanese mother would automatically lose custody of the 7-year-old child if she returned to Lebanon, as under Sharia law physical custody of the child was normally given to the mother until the child was 7 and thereafter was automatically given to the father. The mother claimed asylum, arguing that the denial of the right to participate in the upbringing of the child after the age of 7 was a complete denial of her right to family life.

The Lebanese courts had power to grant the mother visitation rights, and on the evidence would exercise that impartially. The mother's enjoyment of family life with the child, although severely restricted, would therefore not be completely denied or nullified, and there was no reason to grant asylum to the mother.