The Rights of Refugees

It is humane for any country to furnish a haven for those fleeing persecution, and securing protection to those individuals is a fundamental basis of magnanimity. However, the contemporary refugee regime is engendered by the second half of the twentieth century. The origin can be traced to the backwash of World War II and the refugee crisis contributed by the interwar years that lead the way.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948, grants the prerogative to entreat asylum in other countries, according to Article 14(1). Regulating international convention on refugee law is under the mandate of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Optional Protocol. The 1951 Convention outlines the definitive of a refugee and the essence of non-refoulement and the rights enjoyed by those accorded refugee statuses.

Who is a Refugee?

According to Article 1(A)(2) of the 1951 Convention, a refugee is an individual who is away from their country of residence who is helpless or resistant to return because of considerable angst of persecution based on their race, political opinion, religion, or nationality. However, the internally displaced persons are not regarded as refugees under the 1951 Convention or the 1967 Optional Protocol.

The Rights Exercised by Refugees

Refugee law and international human rights are woven together – convoluted.


This primary principle outlines the commitment of States not to refoule or reinstate a refugee to the country that he has fled from owing to his life or freedom under threat. Non-refoulement is invariably embraced as a human right. This has been stated in human rights treaties like Article 22(8) of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Subsequently, regional and domestic courts have elucidated the right to life and freedom to insert an embargo against refoulement. The principle of non-refoulement proscribed not only the expulsion of individuals but also the mass deportation of refugees.

Freedom of Movement

This is a paramount right that every refugee must relish within their host country. Article 26 of the 1951 Convention confers refugees the privilege of selecting their place of residence within that particular host State and moving without any restriction within that State. At the same time, Article 28 requires States to provide refugees travel documents that enable them to travel outside the State unless it impedes national security.

Freedom of movement becomes a concern specific to countries with restricted national resources and bounded legal frameworks for safeguarding refugees. It is in such circumstances refugee warehousing occurs. This means refugees are constricted to refugee camps, thereby denying their primary access to employment and education.


Right to Liberty and Security

This is crucial in the treatment meted out to refugees within their host country. The national law of numerous countries confers on refugees’ detention facilities as the only panacea. This raises concern because of the conditions present at these detention facilities.

This is not a myth but a reality because Human Rights Organisations like Amnesty International have brought into light the unsanitary and over-cramped conditions in Greek detention centres.