[World Refugee Day Special] Protection of Refugees and their Rights (with links of all conventions) by Rohan Pratap Singh [Intern Post]

With links to All International and Regional Conventions and Treaties


In general, it is understood that a person who has been forced to cross the boundaries of the nation in order to get some kind of life is known as a refugee. Hereby, the state also helps the individuals and groups who abscond themselves from any type of victimization. Moreover, Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted in 1948 guarantees the right to seek and relish asylum in different countries. Over here, the regional human rights instruments have been elaborated, rights of the refugees in order to provide guaranteeing “the right to seek and be granted asylum in a foreign territory, in accordance with the legislation of the state and international conventions”

The convention relating to the status of refugees (1951 convention) and Optional protocol relating to the status of refugees (1967 Optional Protocol) has been introduced for controlling the international convention on refugee law.

The refugee day was first celebrated on June 20, 2001, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; World Refugee Day is a key a moment in time to communicate with the world about who refugees are and why they require protection.
On World Refugee Day we celebrate refugees' contributions and seek to build empathy and understanding of their plight and their resilience to build a bright future.
On World Refugee Day, which is held every year on June 20th, we commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance towards millions of refugees.

Who are refugees?

According to Article 1(A) (2) of 1951 Convention defines refugee as “a person who is outside of his or her country of nationality or habitual residence who is unable or unwilling to return due to well-founded fear of persecution based on his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.”
UNHCR, the office of United Nation-High Commissioner for refugees is a global organization dedicated to saving lives and protecting the rights of the refugees. Its headquarter is in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to the report of UNHCR at the end of the year, 2017 more than 68.5 million people were forced to leave their country due to conflict, violence, persecution, or human rights violations
One person is displaced every 2 seconds or can say in lesser than you took the time to read this.
Whenever anyone hears the word “refugee”, one thinks about the terms ‘human rights’, ‘violence’, ‘mass exoduses’, ‘national security’ etc.
There are many rights and legal protection which are related to the refugees, which are accepted by more than 140 countries according to the 1951 convention and 1967 protocol.
International and regional instrument related to refugees include-

Both the refugee rights and human rights are intermixed, they intersect each other in many situations. There are many certain and basic principles related to the refugee law which are for providing some basic rights to them. These rights are such as-


This basic feature of refugee law of non-refoulment puts some of the obligations on states not to refoul or to return the refugee, where there is a threat to their life or freedom in respect to race, nationality, religions of a particular social group or opinion of the state.
But there are two restrictions to this principle;
1.      When the refugee is considered as a threat to the national security of the host countries.
2.      When the refugees were convicted of a particular crime which generates a danger for the host community.


It is the key rights of the refugees in the host countries. According to Article 12 and 26 of 1951 convention and the international covenant on civil and political rights provide that host countries should afford the refugees rights to choose to where they want to reside in the territory and move freely within the state. 
This principle still arises problems to the countries with limited resources and legal framework who can’t afford it.


The detention of the refugees in the host countries is still an issue with respect to the security of the asylum seekers in the host countries. So, the right to security and the right to liberty is an important context in regards to the refugee in the host countries.
Article 9 of ICCPR   
Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
This article was developed by relevant human right jurisprudence.


Article 23 (1) of the ICCPR says that “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”
If any of the refugees are granted asylum, his or her whole family will receive that protection. And if the refugee status is terminated, it is terminated for the whole family. Any of the rights an individual refugee gets, his or her family will get it.
The definition of the family in relation to refugees differs in each country, anyone can't assume the same situation in the other countries also.

Other rights made for the protection of the rights of the refugees are

1.      Right to education
2.      Access to justice
3.      Employment
4.      Legal protection
5.      Equality among the citizens of the host countries
And there are still many rights under the 1951 convention like Article 13 which provides refugees with the right to movable and immovable property as a foreign national. Article 16 refugee is allowed to access the courts. Article 17 refugees are allowed to have the same wage of earnings and employment as a foreign national.


India has not signed to the 1951 convention and 1967 protocol still it is serving as the home of the largest refugees in southern Asia. India fairly shares its ratio in refugee settlement in the world despite not being the official member. India is facing this from the time of partition due to newly formed boundaries.

Major refugees in India are from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Tibet, and Sri Lankan Tamils. Providing asylum to the Tibetans’ proved to be a reason of many in war with China in 1962, in liberation war of 1971 more than 10 million Bangladeshi refugees came to India in find of proper shelter and food. Due to active discrimination in Sri Lanka towards the Tamil speakers led them to flee to India. A report says that more than 1.34 lakh Sri Lankan Tamil crossed Palk Strait in between 1983 to 1987. A report of UNHCR says that more than 2lakh of Hindu and Sikh afghan came in India after fleeing fighting in the home countries.

Rohingya Refugees In India
They are considered as an illegal migrant in the countries who are harmful to the security threat of the country. As the non-refoulment policy doesn’t apply to India as it is not the member of the signatory board of the convention. on this issue, Indian Express noted, “India’s claim to send the Rohingyas back to Myanmar rests on the notion that the refugees are of Burmese stock. However, the issue at hand is that the Burmese do not consider the Rohingyas as their citizens and consider them to be immigrants who were brought in from Bangladesh during the British colonial rule. Further, Bangladesh, which remains the favourite destination for the Rohingyas facing atrocities in Myanmar, is of the opinion that they are natives of the Burmese state and should be protected there." 

Bibliography/ Further Studies/ Sources
Mr. Rohan Pratap Singh is a law student at Trinity Institute of Professional Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi and presently interns with MyLawman. He can be reached at [email protected]

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