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Responses to Secondary Movements of Refugees: A Comparative Preliminary Study of State Practice in South Africa, Spain, and the USA

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Maria-Teresa Gil-Bazo


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Some refugees and asylum-seekers are compelled or choose to transit through and/or seek protection in several countries. States have responded to secondary movements of refugees and asylum-seekers with restrictive measures such as increased border controls and interception measures, prolonged detention and deportation. Some States have also restricted access to their asylum systems or denied refugee status on the basis that the asylum-seeker could have accessed protection in another country. This preliminary study has been commissioned by UNHCR for the Expert Meeting on “International Cooperation to Share Burden and Responsibilities” held in Amman, Jordan, on 27 and 28 June 2011 in the context of UNHCR’s commemorations of the 60th Anniversary of the 1951 Convention. It analyses relevant State practice on secondary movements in three destination countries for such movements: the United States, South Africa, and Spain. All three States are parties to the 1951 Convention and/or to its Protocol, as well as to other human rights instruments of international and regional scope. The study first examines procedural tools which States use to address secondary movements. It highlights converging and diverging trends in the management of secondary movements by these States and examines how far they reflect international law and standards. It also identifies specific areas that deserve further research and/or policy development. Second, the study examines specific measures taken by the State towards the individual asylum applicant to address secondary movements. This includes the scope and function of the “safe third country” and “country of first asylum” concepts in national legislation, policy and/or practice. Finally, the study examines inter-State agreements to allocate responsibility for the examination of asylum applications, as well as readmission agreements through which the safe third country and the country of first asylum concepts are implemented in practice.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gil-Bazo M-T

Publication type: Online Publication

Publication status: Published

Series Title:

Year: 2011

Publisher: UNHCR

Place Published: Geneva



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