Research Handbook on International Refugee Law
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Research Handbook on International Refugee Law

Edited by Satvinder Singh Juss

In an age of ethnic nationalism and anti-immigrant rhetoric, the study of refugees can help develop a new outlook on social justice, just as the post-war international order ends. The global financial crisis, the rise of populist leaders like Trump, Putin, and Erdogan, not to mention the arrival of anti-EU parties, raises the need to interrogate the refugee, migrant, citizen, stateless, legal, and illegal as concepts. This insightful Research Handbook is a timely contribution to that debate.
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Chapter 14: The prosecution of asylum seekers

Yewa Holiday


This chapter looks at the much neglected provision of Article 31(1) of the Refugee Convention which prohibits the penalisation of refugees ‘coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of Article 1’ for offences of illegal entry and presence as long as they ‘present themselves without delay to the authorities’ and ‘show good cause’ for the illegal entry or presence. Despite this, the penalisation of asylum seekers does occur in the form of fines and imprisonment and summary deportation; it also includes the delaying, obstructing or denying of access to asylum. Refugees without proper documentation may also be channelled into ‘an inferior refugee procedure’. The chapter argues that properly understood Article 31(1) exempts all asylum seekers from penalisation except those who have found permanent protection from persecution and therefore have no need to resort to irregular methods of travel.

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