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Asylum in the practice of Latin American and African States

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


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Asylum, understood as ‘the protection that a state grants on its territory or in some other place under the control of certain of its organs to a person who comes to seek it’ is a well-known institution in international law and its historical roots in state practice are well established. Asylum is different from refugee status, as the former constitutes the institution for protection while the latter refers to one of the categories of individuals –among others- who benefit from such protection. The purpose of this paper is to bring into the legal debate on refugee protection a perspective often overlooked, namely, that of asylum itself as an institution different from refugee status. In particular, the practice of Latin American and African states, which have a long-standing tradition of protection, will be explored. The constitutions of Latin American and African states have been examined, together with their interpretations by Constitutional and/or Supreme Courts when they exist. This paper will focus on constitutional provisions only, notwithstanding that a significant number of countries which do not recognise asylum in their constitutions do so in other legislation or may recognise a right not to be extradited (closely related to asylum itself). This focus responds to the normative character of constitutions. As asylum features in a significant number of constitutional texts across the world, it gives an indication of the value of this institution as one of the underlying principles of legal orders worldwide (something explicitly recognised by some constitutions). And as such, it informs international law itself. The research on African and Latin American states has been funded by a Small Grant from UNHCR. A research assistant (Maria Beatriz B. Nogueira) undertook the task of identifying constitutional texts and their interpretative case-law in Latin America while two research assistants facilitated the identification of the law in African countries.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gil-Bazo M-T

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: New Issues in Refugee Research

Year: 2013

Pages: 15

Print publication date: 01/01/2013

Source Publication Date: January 2013

Report Number: 249

Institution: UNHCR

Place Published: Geneva


Notes: ISSN: 1020-7473


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