State of Political Asylum
Article Four of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
states "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy
in other countries asylum from persecution". Political
asylum has become an increasingly important issue surrounding
human rights. There has been an accretion in the number
of refugees seeking asylum in the past decade due to the
high number of instances of civil strife. However, many
of the richer nations deny refugees asylum on the basis
of population control.
Despite being clearly stated in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, political asylum is definitely not fully
guaranteed. Though many states ratified the UN Refugee
Convention and its 1967 protocol, refugees often find
that there is insufficient protection from the more powerful
nations. In a report on political asylum, Refugees Face
Barriers to Political Asylum, by Amnesty International,
"[c]ountries which proclaim the importance they attach
to human rights simultaneously force men, women and children
back into the arms of the persecutors by obstructing access
to political asylum procedures, misinterpreting the UN
Refugee Convention definition of who is a refugee and
forcibly returning those who are in need of protection"
(Amnesty International. "Refugees:
Human Rights Have No Borders"
Amnesty International Report, 1997. Human Rights: Opposing
Viewpoints. Williams, Mary E., ed.
USA: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1998) .
This practice that Amnesty International condemns, in
which refugees are denied help and are forcibly returned
to the state that they wish to escape from, is known as
refoulement. Though refoulement is prohibited by an article
in the UN Refugee Convention, many of the richer nations
utilize a variety of ways to prevent refugees from seeking
asylum, such as by misportraying refugees as people who
really do not need help. Others are denied asylum because
of visa requirements and carrier sanctions. Carrier sanctions
essentially impose large fines on airlines or shipowners
that allow people to board their craft who lack the required
documents. Some asylum seekers in North America and Europe
are detained while their applications are being reviewed.
Detention is used as a way to discourage refugees from
seeking asylum in a particular country. During their detention,
the asylum seekers could live in harsh conditions without
knowing when they will be set free.