25.07.2012 – “In a very detailed judgement in respect of which there was unanimous agreement, the Supreme Court has accepted that in the context of countries where neutrality is not possible, to compel someone seeking refugee to return to that country and lie about their political affiliations is unacceptable. The Supreme Court concluded that freedom of thought opinion and expression protects non believers as well as believers and extends that freedom to the right not to hold and not to have to express an opinion.
This principle has been in place for decades and was perhaps best exemplified by the decision of Justice Jackson in the celebrated judgement given 18 months after the US had entered the Second World War regarding the requirement to salute the flag in which the court held:
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein”
The judgment applies to protect people from persecution where to avoid harm they would have to lie or fabricate a loyalty which they do not hold to what Lord Kerr referred to as “a brutal and despotic regime”