Contemporary Issues in Refugee Law

Contemporary Issues in Refugee Law

Edited by Satvinder Singh Juss and Colin Harvey

Refugee law is going through momentous times, as dictatorships tumble, revolutions simmer and the ‘Arab Awakening’ gives way to the spread of terror from Syria to the Sahel in Africa. This compilation of topical chapters, by some of the leading scholars in the field, covers major themes of rights, security, the UNHCR, international humanitarianism and state interests and sets out to map new contours.

Chapter 8: The securitization of asylum and human rights in Canada and the European Union

Idil Atak and François Crépeau

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law

Extract

Over the past decades, as the number of forcibly displaced persons has reached unprecedented levels around the world, migration and asylum have become critical and debated issues in many countries. Concerns related to security, territorial sovereignty and border control fundamentally changed the playing field of immigration regulation. Beginning in the early 1980s, a number of immigration policy measures, notably visa regimes and carrier sanctions, were either initiated or retooled in order to prevent the irregular arrival of migrants or asylum seekers. National legislations on asylum and immigration have been frequently amended to become stricter. Numerous states have criminalized illegal entry, as well as all help to irregular migration. Excessive penalties have been imposed for migrant smuggling. States have re-emphasized the role of the border as the traditional symbol of national sovereignty. Physical barriers have been erected, border controls strengthened with increasing reliance on technology and military equipment. Migration controls were also pushed beyond national territory and international cooperation has been increased. This chapter deals with the securitization of asylum. Securitization is defined as a process of social construction that pushes an area of regular politics, such as asylum, into an area of security. The issue is therefore described as an existential threat to fundamental values of society and the state, a construction which helps in convincing a relevant section of society that exceptional measures are needed in response to this existential threat. In the name of urgency and survival, these measures often reach above and beyond the law and the ordinary political process.

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