Readmission Agreements and Refugee Rights: From a Critique to a Proposal

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Against the backdrop of the bilateral cooperation on migration control between individual European Union Member States and third countries, this article examines whether the implementation of readmission agreements can hamper access to protection for asylum-seekers subjected to a return procedure. It concludes that no issue of incompatibility with refugee and human rights law seems to stem from the text of readmission agreements – administrative tools used to articulate the procedures for a smooth return of irregular migrants and rejected refugees to countries of origin or transit. Nevertheless, instances of informal practices of border control, especially in situations of emergency and mass influxes demonstrate how the existence of a readmission agreement may boost the use of swift and accelerated identification and return procedures in dissonance with international human rights and refugee law. As readmission agreements do not generally include separate provisions on refugees, a real risk exists of removing asylum-seekers, as unauthorised migrants, to allegedly “ safe third countries” . The article hails, therefore, as an added value, the insertion of both non-affection clauses and procedural human rights clauses creating extra safeguards for removable asylum-seekers. To this end, a number of concrete proposals of draft provisions are put forward as a platform for further discussion among legal scholars and policy-makers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-111
JournalRefugee Survey Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013

Research Centres

  • International Justice and Human Rights Research Centre


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