Of course, but maybe: the absolute prohibition of refoulement and threats to national security and public safety : Legal and practical effects of undesirable but unreturnable refugees

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Abstract: States are routinely confronted with conflicting duties of maintaining full respect for human rights, on the one hand, and protecting national security and public safety, on the other. This is not least noticeable when States’ sovereignty and the right to control who enters and leaves their territories clash with the obligation to afford protection to refugees fleeing persecution. Some refugees are bound to be dangerous criminals, presenting a serious threat to national security and public safety in the host State. Refugee law prescribe that allegedly serious criminals must be excluded from refugee protection. However, the principle of non-refoulement, as developed and interpreted under international and regional human rights law, prohibits removal of persons if there is risk for torture or ill-treatment in the country of origin. This thesis explores the fact that a person can be considered fundamentally undeserving of protection under refugee law, while protected against removal under human rights law. Persons like this have fittingly been coined undesirable but unreturnable.      The relationship between the relevant provisions on refoulement and exclusion from refugee protection is examined and analyzed, followed by a recount of the effects that this clash of legal regimes and legitimate interests has on the individuals concerned, on the States, and on the integrity of refugee law. Possible solutions to adverse effects are identified and discussed, including the question of whether the principle of non-refoulement, as understood today, is viable in light of the challenges presented to national security and public safety. 

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