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exile

exile, removal of a national from his or her country, or the civilized parts of it, for a long period of time or for life. Exile may be a forceful expulsion by the government or a voluntary removal by the citizen, sometimes in order to escape punishment. In ancient Greece, exile was often the penalty for homicide, while ostracism was a common punishment for those accused of political crimes. In early Rome a citizen under sentence of death had a choice between exile and death. In this case, exile was a means of escaping a greater punishment. During the Roman Empire, deportation to certain islands became a general punishment for serious crimes. The ancient Hebrews allowed those who committed homicide to take refuge in designated cities of sanctuary. Until 1776, certain types of English criminals were transported to the American colonies, and later, until 1853, they were sent to penal settlements in Australia. Both the Russian czarist and Communist regimes have transported prisoners to Siberia. With the growth of nation-states and the acceptance of the doctrine that ties between state and citizen are indissoluble, exile for criminal reasons has become infrequent. However, modern civil wars and revolutions have produced many political exiles, including large numbers of refugees who have been victims of the upheavals in some manner. Such exiles are not subject to extradition and may demand protection from the country receiving them. The concept of "government in exile"—one person or a group of persons living outside their state and claiming to be the rightful government—has become accepted in international law during the 20th cent. This situation usually arises when a warring state is occupied by the enemy and its government is forced to seek asylum in another state. The government is recognized as lawful if it attempts to regain control and if it has armed forces integrated in a large alliance. During World War II, the monarchs and governments of Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium (without the king), and Yugoslavia were exiled in London, while the governments of Charles de Gaulle of France and Eduard Beneš of Czechoslovakia were formed in exile. See deportation; refugee.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Political Science: Terms and Concepts


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