Gary concludes that in asylum-granting the humanitarian practice is in existence but the sense of obligation is missing 33. In the post cold war period refugees were treated with generosity, they were granted protection and assistance that went beyond the international obligations placed on states receiving them. This was possibly due to their small numbers and guilt due to neglect of refugees of the second world war also contributed to this treatment.
This has changed dramatically especially because of the increase in asylum-seekers (up to around 10 times more). Van Selm and Newman view refugees as both a cause and consequence of conflict, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Congo, Rwanda, Angola, and Palestine/Israel displaced people have been a basic element in continuation of conflict and instability. Politicians in many countries view refugees in a negative light, a threat to security, employment and social cohesion. There has been a change in the image of the refugee.
Even with this view having some truth governments still have an ethical responsibility to provide a threatened individual with protection and those in capacity to do so should extend security to people lacking it as a basic human obligation. Focus on resources and security undermines the Geneva Convention relating to the status of Refugees. In the EU there has been a shift from protecting refugees to protecting the state. This is evidenced by development of a common asylum based on targets that are set to reduce asylum claims and to increase removal of failed asylum seekers.
Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair has often spoken about protecting the country from ‘those asylum-seekers who remain and those whose continued presence may send a wrong message to those who want to enter the country without genuine cause’. Consideration of resources in granting international aid has also led to some governments deporting immigrants and also creation of zones of protection for refugees. In the UK, refugees, including those seeking refuge from the war in Iraq are being moved to other countries.
The problem with this is that more often than not, the other countries are poor, less politically stable and close to the conflict zones. In so doing, the country has failed to act morally in extending a humanitarian hand to the refugees more so in the case of the Gulf where the government’s aim was to liberate Iraqi people. The Australian government has put up detention facilities where there are no specific time limits for how long the asylum-seeker will stay in the facility while they await return to their country or going to a third country.
Many times, the detainees are not informed of their rights or assisted with legal advice concerning immigration. There is also use of force to control detainees’ behavior. All these actions are in regulations laid down in the Covenant A report from Human Rights First shows that in the US the concern with security leaves a lot of asylum-seeker abandoned though they are being persecuted. Refugees who have escaped from torturers have had their requests denied and they are in danger of being returned to the same places that puts their lives in peril .
Denying asylum-seekers who have supported terrorist activity even though under duress is allowing persecution of innocent people to persist. While the importance of national security cannot be overemphasized the disregard for individual rights in its application to refugees is appalling. Human Rights first recommended that congress should revise the immigration law to ensure that refugees fleeing oppression and terror, who do not pose a threat to the security of a country’s protection. The focus on resources will be difficult to change as evidenced by the latest edition of emigration law handbook.
The book highlights new restrictions on entry clearance appeals and describes a scheme of penalizing illegal workers. Most of the legislation is aimed at reducing asylum-seekers and removal of immigrants . For most governments national factors take precedent over national factors where human rights are concerned . This is not only applies to developing countries in Eastern Europe but also to the already developed countries in Western Europe who had to absorb refugees from Eastern Europe.
Abadi D, 2005 Gender Persecution and Iranian Women retrieved from http://www.un.org/