The House of Lords has just released a judgment, Em (Lebanon) (Fc) (Fc) v. Secretary of State For The Home Department  UKHL 64, of some interest.
A mother and her seven-year-old son from Lebanon sought asylum in the U.K., claiming a right to remain under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights read in conjunction with article 14. She had been granted a divorce from her husband in Lebanon and had actual custody of their child; when the boy would turn seven, Shari’a law would automatically pass all custody, legal and actual, to the father; the mother might be allowed supervised visits with her son. To escape this result, the mother took the child to England, where she applied for the right to remain on the basis that Shari’a law would, in her case, result in flagrant denial of her right to family life.
The Lords reversed the Court of Appeal decision and allowed the mother, and consequently her dependent son, to stay in the U.K.
The case presents a raft of difficult and tangled issues, having to do with, among other things, what the limit is on the government’s power to control immigration, when may “an alien” take advantage of rights under the European Convention, what respect is to be given to Shari’a law, at least as it is embodied in Lebanese law, and (a point raised only in the Court of Appeal decision) whether the principles underlying the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction ought to be followed ((Lebanon is not a signatory of the Convention.)).
These are not wholly novel problems, to be sure: there have always been conflicts of law and international law and treaties. But the rate at which nations are concluding agreements and conventions seems to be increasing; and it is certainly the case that enhanced mobility and new information technologies have made boundaries, and with them, jurisdictions, more permeable than ever, with the result that cultures cannot escape each other.