"A Terrible Signal that International Law can be Flaunted without Consequence"

If refugees are detained or turned away for reasons of religion or country of origin, that is a case of discrimination clearly prohibited by international refugee law. In theory any other state party to the Refugee Protocol can take the US to the International Court of Justice. Will Chancellor Merkel or perhaps Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau – each of whom has spoken up for refugees in the current context – have the courage to make that referral?

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Taking refugee rights seriously: A reply to Professor Hailbronner

Reactions to the proposed “refugee swap” between the EU and Turkey have been predictably absolutist. On the one hand, most advocates have opposed the draft arrangement, asserting some combination of the right of refugees to be protected where they choose and/or that a protection swap would clearly breach the ECHR’s prohibition of “collective expulsion” of aliens. On the other hand, Professor Hailbronner argues against any right of refugees to make their own decisions about how to access protection, believes that refugees may be penalized if arriving in the EU “without the necessary documents,” suggests that it does not matter that Turkey is not relevantly a party to the Refugee Convention, and confidently asserts that there is no basis to see the prohibition of “collective expulsion” as engaged here. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

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Legal Requirements for the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement: A Reply to J. Hathaway

There are many open questions and objections against the EU-Turkey deal on an agreement whose details are yet to be negotiated to manage the Syrian refugee crisis. In particular on the reciprocity part: could the agreement as an easily available tool by Turkey to blackmail visa liberalization and progress in the EU Accession negotiations? How will the EU make sure the proper treatment of all returnees? How is the resettlement of refugees from Syria to the EU (and to Germany) going to take place? James Hathaway on this blog has listed three legal requirements for the agreement to be legal. In my view none of these are likely to block an agreement.

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Why the EU-Turkey Deal is Legal and a Step in the Right Direction

Pro-refugee NGOs were quick to castigate the EU-Turkey refugee deal for falling foul of the EU’s on legal standards and for being an anti-humanitarian solution, in particular insofar as forced returns to Turkey are concerned. Academics also present a critical outlook reiterating the legal criticism or criticising the EU for burden-shifting. The critique highlights a number of valid concerns, but these caveats do not unmake the legal and conceptual value of the approach pursued by the EU: mass-influx scenarios require international cooperation.

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Three legal requirements for the EU-Turkey deal: An interview with JAMES HATHAWAY

"The right to decide where to seek recognition of refugee status does not entail the right to choose where international refugee protection is to be enjoyed": One of the foremost experts in international refugee law, James C. Hathaway (Michigan), gives some preliminary indications on the legality of the emerging EU-Turkey agreement on Syrian refugee resettlement.

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Einer raus, einer rein: vielleicht keine Lösung, aber immerhin Völkerrecht

Für jeden syrischen Flüchtling, den die Türkei aus Chios, Lesbos und Kos zurücknimmt, lässt die EU einen anderen syrischen Flüchtling aus der Türkei legal einreisen. Ein bewegliches Kontingent soll es geben, das den Syrern in der Türkei als legale, sichere und preiswerte Alternative zum Schlauchboot offen steht und dessen Größe schrumpft und wächst mit der Zahl der irregulär eingereisten Flüchtlinge, die die Türkei aus Griechenland wieder zurücknimmt. Das ist der Plan nach dem gestrigen EU-Gipfel in Brüssel. Pro Asyl findet ihn ganz fürchterlich. Ich bin da ehrlich gesagt nicht so sicher.

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