Undesirable and unreturnable? Policy challenges around excluded asylum-seekers and migrants suspected of serious criminality but who cannot be removed

Project Summary

This project is hosted by: Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Research interests:
Globalization & Development, Human rights, International Relations, Law, Political Institutions
Europe, Europe, North America, North America, South America, South America
Project period:
01-Oct-2014 - 30-Sep-2016
Project categories:
Research project
Project summary:

 1. This project brings together a network of academics, policy-makers and policy bodies to stimulate new cross-boundary debate on the challenges posed to national and international public policy by excluded asylum-seekers and other migrants who are suspected of serious criminality but cannot be removed.

2. Impediments to the expulsion of migrants suspected or convicted of serious criminality pose an increasing challenge for public policy in both the national and international spheres. These obstacles can be 'practical', such as the lack of means to send the person to their country of origin, or 'legal' in nature, as where human rights standards prevent removal. However, even though such cases appear comparatively few in number, they tend to attract significant public interest due to the real concerns that they generate for State migration control, the integrity of the institution of asylum, the role of human rights in contemporary society, and the bringing to justice of perpetrators of serious crimes.

3. This network project analyses and debates the problem in Europe, North America and South America. Among the far-reaching questions to be addressed are:

- What are the scale and key characteristics of the problem and policy response in a selective sample of a range of the most-affected States?
- Do these cases represent the emergence of a 'fundamental system error' (van Wijk) in international law or merely a practical problem in application of the law?
- How should humanitarian issues of 'international protection' be balanced against international criminal law imperatives to counteract impunity?
- Can law respond to address the 'legal limbo' in which such persons find themselves and resolve their situation one way or the other? Are other tools required?
- What are the implications of this situation for the wider legitimacy of refugee law and human rights law? How should these wider contexts inform the search for a solution?
- How should future policy development in relation to this problem take place? What would a coherent and uniform policy on this topic look like?

4. This multi-disciplinary project generates an exchange of ideas on its core themes through promoting research and debate in relevant fields. It operates principally through a Stakeholder group of academics, policy-makers and wider policy bodies. It further facilitates the co-production of knowledge in this area through a range of activities, such as the following proposed conferences and workshops:

- 2015 Amsterdam Workshop.
- 2015 Refugee Research Network moderated online discussion.
- 2016 London Conference with Stakeholders and other academics and practitioners.
- 2015 Network report launch panels with academics and practitioners in London, Amsterdam and Brussels.

Further practical and academic impact will be secured through targeted follow-up activities with different beneficiary and 'user' stakeholders participating in these events.

5. The project seeks to generate mid-long term impact 'through people' to address the security and justice challenges that these cases present by:

- Facilitating the review, development and improvement of State policies in this area;
- Assisting international policy bodies to develop consistent policy in this area; and
- Helping to promote an informed public debate on the topic.

The project will also yield mid-to-long term impact in terms of international leadership and partnerships by promoting international academic collaboration and academic-practitioner partnerships and by increasing the international visibility of UK academic research.

6. The project is based upon international collaboration between the Refugee Law Initiative in the UK and the Center for International Criminal Justice in the Netherlands. The expertise, contacts and networks brought by these two specialised academic centres underpin the success of the network

View this project on RCUK gateway

Management Details

Lead researcher & project contact:

Name Position Institute Organisation Contact
Dr David Cantor Reader in Human Rights Law; Director of the Refugee Law Initiative; Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leader Institute of Commonwealth Studies / Refugee Law Initiative School of Advanced Study david.cantor@sas.ac.uk



Name Position Institute Organisation Contact
Dr Joris van Wijk Executive Director Center for International Criminal Justice (CICJ), Department of Criminal Law and Criminology VU University Amsterdam j.van.wijk@vu.nl



Funder Grant type Award
AHRC Research Networking £37,307.23