The Obligation of Non-Refoulement of Refugees and Asylum-Seekers: Myth or Reality?

Ogoh Nwaeze


This article considers whether or not international refugee law is effective in its protection of refugees and asylum seekers from refoulement by the state in which they are taking refuge. It asks the question whether the legal right to non refoulement is a myth or a reality. It investigated that voice of the refugee or asylum seeker in the refoulement process, the possibility of some measure of control in determining the country of repatriation - as an alternative to being sent back home? In analysing this question, the author looks at status determination decisions from the United Kingdom, her European neighbours and Canada in order to assess the real experience of the asylum seeker with the question of non refoulement.  The article concludes that although there are adequate provisions for non-refoulement of refugees and asylum seekers by their host states, this obligation is not always exercised for the benefit of the asylum seeker. The reality on the ground is that considerations of national security, public order, and political, financial or logistical concerns sometimes conspire against the asylum seekers hopes of non-refoulement.

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