‘How of temporary protection during the processing of


‘How
can the refugee be made deportable again?’ – Hannah Arendt

 

Writing in 1951, in the context of massive
refugee fluxes following the fallout of the Second World War – and coinciding
with the signing of the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees
(hereafter Geneva Convention) – Arendt seized on a question which grips Western
politicians and policy-makers today (Arendt,
1973:284). Indeed, in an era decried as the largest refugee crisis since
World War II, Western politicians of the ilk of Philipp Ruddock and Tony Abbott
in Australia, or Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders in Europe consider the Geneva
Convention as woefully inadequate in addressing contemporary refugee realities,
calling it an “enabling tool of
organized crime” such as people-smuggling or terrorism (Ruddock, 2001), or allowing “undeserving” economic migrants to
claim asylum.

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Amidst such a context of increased
migratory fluxes and virulent anti-immigration sentiment, extraterritorial
asylum policies have risen to considerable prominence in the West. Extraterritorialisation
is described by Alexander Betts as “the
raft of refugee policies initiated by OECD countries aimed at
de-territorializing the provision of protection to refugees in such a way that temporary protection and the processing of
asylum claims take place outside of the given nation-state” (2004:59). This de-territorialisation is done by
states with the aim of circumventing their international legal obligations of
temporary protection during the processing of asylum claims, as stipulated
under the Geneva Convention, and is achieved through various policies such as
offshore detention, bilateral readmission agreements with third-party
countries, excision of certain territories from legal domain, and more. LG1 Jennifer Hyndman and Alison Mountz also call
this geopolitical respatialisation of asylum neo-refoulement, a “geographically based strategy of preventing the
possibility of asylum” (2008:250) distinct
from non-refoulement, as asylum seekers cannot be refoulé
LG2 if they never reach the sovereign territory in
which they could make a claim. In a way, this means the preventive deportation
of asylum seekers and refugees, as they are barred from ever accessing the
legal protection they are owed.

Western politicians increasingly consider
such policies of extraterritorialisation and neo-refoulement as a legitimate
and viable response

 LG1This de-territorialisation is achieved through
various policies such as offshore detention and bilateral readmission
agreements with third-party countries, and is done with the aim of
circumventing states’ their international legal obligations of temporary
protection during the processing of asylum claims under the Geneva Convention.

 LG2, or pushed back,

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