Seeking Protection in Europe: Refugees, Human Rights, and Bilateral Agreements Linked to Readmission

Giuffre', Mariagiulia (2014) Seeking Protection in Europe: Refugees, Human Rights, and Bilateral Agreements Linked to Readmission. PhD thesis, School of International Studies, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


This thesis lies at the junction of migration control and refugee protection. As asylum is a migration-related matter, it can be difficult for States to dissociate it from the fight against irregular immigration. Asylum, as a measure for protecting refugees and other persons in need of international protection, may thus easily come into conflict with policies and practices derived from strict border control considerations. This thesis concentrates upon this tension and aims, primarily, to investigate - with a specific focus on the European Union (EU) geographical context - whether the implementation of bilateral agreements linked to the readmission of irregular migrants can hamper refugees’ access to protection, understood here as the combination of the right to non-refoulement and an individual’s right to have access to asylum procedures and effective remedies before return. The material content and the normative scope of these protection standards is thus analysed through the lens of international refugee and human rights law and in respect of the traditional rules of treaty interpretation. The central objective of this thesis is to develop the concept of agreements linked to readmission by broadening – to my knowledge, for the first time - the scope of legal analysis to the multifaceted framework of bilateral cooperation arrangements connected to the readmission of irregular migrants from the EU to third countries of origin or transit. This encompasses written accords employed to facilitate the forced return of undocumented migrants from the territory of an EU Member State (standard readmission agreements and diplomatic assurances on the fair and humane treatment of the deportee, especially if formalized within MoUs), and those agreements for technical and police cooperation that are de facto utilized by EU Member States to divert migrants back to the ports of departure before they arrive to the destination country. In order to fully understand the real impact of bilateral agreements linked to readmission on refugee rights, it is necessary to acknowledge that the study of legal texts alone will not suffice in gaining a sufficiently comprehensive approach. Rather, equal attention has also to be accorded to the implementation of the law, and, as a result, a number of case studies have been incorporated as an integral element of the methodological framework. This thesis concludes that the text of agreements linked to readmission does not seem to raise per se issues of incompatibility with core refugee rights. However, in situations of informal border controls, massive arrivals, public emergency, and pre-arrival maritime interceptions, the enforcement of these bilateral agreements can de facto hamper refugees’ access to protection. Therefore, this thesis will make a number of recommendations as a platform for further discussion among legal scholars and policy-makers.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:24
Subjects:Area 12 - Scienze giuridiche > IUS/13 DIRITTO INTERNAZIONALE
Uncontrolled Keywords:bilateral agreements linked to readmission, access to protection, refugee rights, asylum law, migration law,readmission agreements, interception, migration controls
Repository Staff approval on:16 May 2014 14:24

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