The Removal of Failed Asylum Seekers: International Norms and Procedures (2007, John Gibson)

This paper reviews existing norms and best practice in removals procedures and asylum/appeals procedures relevant to the removal process in chosen countries. It is informed by regional and international standards and refers to the particular situation in the 15 pre-enlargement EU member states, Norway, Switzerland and Australia and with some references to law and practice in New Zealand and Canada. It concentrates on standards that impact the removal process, in binding international and regional treaties, regional directives and recommendations, UNHCR Excom conclusions and other guidelines.

The paper also focuses on those state removal practices that represent best practice when judged against these standards and in the light of the acknowledged need to secure removals as efficiently and humanely as possible once individuals have become failed asylum seekers. It notes specific and generic bilateral or multilateral agreements of varying kind (including tripartite agreements between UNHCR, host country and country of origin concerning collaborative return arrangements) that govern removal to and readmission to countries of origin, reflecting best practice standards. Finally throughout the paper, the range of EU practices is noted where they relevantly illustrate the continuum of existing state practice.

For the purpose of this paper, the term “failed asylum seeker” or “rejected asylum seeker” means a person whose asylum application has been rejected, with no appeals outstanding and who has not been granted permission to stay on any other basis.

This paper does not deal with practices concerning categories of persons whose international protection has ended, displaced persons under temporary protection or illegal overstayers or criminals subject to deportation (although some return practices which concern the first two of these groups are mentioned). It should be noted that invariably national legislation in member states of the European Union does not distinguish between these different categories of persons in the context of removal and return procedures; instead general aliens laws apply.