International protection of refugees, a human rights perspective

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Hwacha-Chitanda, Virginia Shingairai
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Human rights violations force countless numbers of people to flee their homes and seek refuge in other countries. The violations take many forms: deliberate killings and acts of genocide; political, racial or religious persecution and denial of fundamental civil, political, economic and social rights. Flight, however, does not always bring the relief victims so desperately seek. Too often, refugees find themselves subjected to new abuses against which they have little protection. Physical assaults, prolonged detention under inhumane conditions, and expulsion are some of the difficulties in the process of seeking refuge. Traditionally, the protection afforded to refugees has been limited to the refugee-specific rights regime, which consists of the 1950 Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. The present work defends the position that exclusive reliance on the refugee-specific regime denies refugees the protection that is to be afforded to all other human beings by the international human rights law developed over the last fifty years. Adop ion of a more comprehensive approach to the protection of refugees is long overdue and the artificial distinction between the refugee and the human-rights question should be put to an end.