Amendment in draft model law on refugees: Human Rights Commission

Amendment in draft model law on refugees: Human Rights Commission

The National Human Rights Commission should amend the draft Model Law on Asylum and Refugees.

  • Recently, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had organized a discussion. In this the Commission has endorsed a national legislation to ensure uniformity and legal correctness across the country.
  • A model law on asylum and refugee was prepared decades ago by the National Human Rights Commission. But it has not been implemented yet.

India’s stand on refugees

  • India is not a party to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention or its 1987 Protocol. India has neither a national refugee protection framework nor a policy or law on it.
  • However, India continues to harbor large numbers of refugees from neighboring countries. Also, it respects the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in matters of citizens of other countries (mainly Afghanistan and Myanmar).
  • As of April 2021, about 300,000 people were classified as refugees.
  • There is no distinction between a foreign national and a ‘refugee’ under Indian law.
  • Foreign Affairs Act, 1946; Passport Act, 19673; Extradition Act, 1982; Laws like the Citizenship Act, 1956 etc. apply to both ‘foreign nationals’ and ‘refugees’.
  • Under these laws, foreigners can be detained and forcibly deported.
  • In Nandita Haksar v State of Manipur, 2021, the Manipur High Court had upheld the principle of non-refoulment. This principle pertains to the refugee not being deported back to his country of origin. It is included in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Who are the refugees?

  • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country due to persecution, war or violence.
  • A refugee is different from a migrant and an internally displaced person. A person who leaves his country of origin voluntarily is called a migrant. An internally displaced person is one who has been compelled to leave his place of origin, but has not crossed the national border.
  • The principle of ‘non-refoulement’ is mentioned in Article 33 of the United Nations Refugee Convention 1951. According to this principle a person leaving his country after suffering persecution should not be compelled to return to his country of origin. There may be grave danger to his life or liberty.

Source – The Hindu

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