This week’s profiled resource is titled “Guide for Prison Officers: Refugees and Asylum Seekers” and comes to us from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. Asylum Seekers and refugees often get detained for lack of proper knowledge and the ambiguity of existing law with regard to their protection in India. This guidebook provides pertinent information for prison officers on laws and provisions governing their stay, detention and determination of status in India.
India is not a signatory to Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol and therefore the Convention itself is not legally binding on India. Over the period of time, certain provisions of the Refugee Convention has attained customary status under Customary International Law which is binding on India. In absence of any specific legal regime, refugees are still governed by the Foreigners Act, 1946. The Foreigners Act does not distinguish between refugees and illegal immigrants, nor does it define refugees as a specific category needing humanitarian protection. This does not imply that India has no policy on refugees. In the absence of any legislation on the subject, refugee policy is based on ad hoc and undefined administrative measures. Despite not being a signatory to the Refugee Convention, India continues to host a large population of refugees. The Government of India allows UNHCR recognised refugees to apply for visas. Refugees and asylum seekers have also been provided access to basic government services such as health care and education as well as to law-enforcement and justice systems. India has also been a member of the executive committee (ExCom) of the UNHCR since 1995. Thus, the general principles of refugee protection are very much applicable to India.
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The resource of the week is a short profile of a key resource found in the resource library of the Global Legal Empowerment Network. These resources can be older or brand new, but they all touch on important themes within legal empowerment. If you have a resource you would like to profile with the network, upload it directly at this link or email it to email@example.com