Today, in commemoration of U.S. Labor Day, Asylum Access and the Refugee Work Rights Coalition release the publication, Global Refugee Work Rights Report 2014: Taking the Movement from Theory to Practice.
The report examines the laws, policies and practices for refugee work rights in 15 countries around the globe (affecting a total of 30% of the world’s refugee population). Our findings reveal that almost half of the 15 countries examined in the report have a complete legal bar to refugee employment, and in the countries where some legal right to work exists, significant de-facto barriers to employment, like strict encampment, exorbitant permit fees or widespread discrimination, undermine refugees’ ability to access lawful employment.
In simple terms, refugees’ work rights are respected as the exception, not the rule.
The publication also calls upon stakeholders – governments, UN agencies, civil society, refugee and local communities – to take concrete steps to bring national employment laws and policies around the world into line with international human rights and refugee law standards. In doing so, the report (i) provides a breakdown of the right to work under international law, which may be used by advocates to inform policy makers of their legal commitments; (ii) an explanation of the economic arguments in favor of granting refugees’ work rights, which may be used to supplement legal arguments; and (iii) concrete recommendations for achieving legal reform, and administrative and judicial support for work rights domestically.
Originally published on the Asylum Access website. See original here.
By: Jessica Therkelsen, Global Policy Director, Asylum Access
The Kenyan government’s decision this week to force all refugees to leave urban centers and report to camps violates human rights and represents a backslide in the government’s approach to urban refugees.
Host to nearly 700,000 refugees, Kenya has since 2006 implemented laws and policies that increasingly improve compliance with international human rights standards. Urban refugees have enjoyed legal status, access to employment, opportunity, and services outside of camps. Following recent attacks in Nairobi attributed to al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group, Kenya is now citing national security in its decision to send nearly 100,000 people to overcrowded and dangerous camps.
Under the new measure, these refugees will be forced to leave their rebuilt lives for internment in a camp with no access to freedom of movement and serious security risks.
By Stewart Pollock, Legal Intern, Asylum Access.
At Tuesday’s Plenary Session of the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs, UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Alex Aleinikoff spoke on the importance of innovation and self-reliance; highlighting the importance of refugee rights, including the right to work.
Julien BLANC received his Masters in Human Rights Law from the Saint-Louis Faculties in Belgium, after graduating from the Institute of Political Sciences of Strasbourg in France. During his time at the Saint-Louis Faculties, Mr. Blanc researched and authored a working paper The Right to Work of Claimants for International Protection, a Legal Toolbox, which is discussed here.
By Julien BLANC
In their domestic legislation, many States do not automatically grant permission to work when an individual lodges an application for international protection, such as a claim for asylum. In practice, asylum seekers may wait years for an answer to their protection claim, while at the same time being denied access to employment.
By Penelope Mathew
Professor Penelope Mathew is the Freilich Foundation professor at the Australian National University. Prior to this role, Professor Mathew was a visiting professor and the Director of the Program in Refugee and Asylum Law at the University of Michigan Law School.
In many countries, the bona fides of refugees and asylum-seekers is questioned. It is asserted that the narrow exception to states’ powers over immigration established by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (‘Refugee Convention’) is abused by persons seeking economic advancement. Some believe that refugees and asylum-seekers are taking something that does not belong to them; that they are getting special treatment; and that citizens are the losers as a result.
Marina Sharpe is a founding member of the Asylum Access Board of Directors, and a DPhil Candidate and Trudeau Scholar at the University of Oxford. In this post, she presents an in-depth legal analysis of the employment rights of African refugees.
The issue of whether refugees in Africa enjoy the right to work under the regional legal framework established by the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (African Convention) has been the subject of some confusion—primarily because the African Convention does not explicitly provide for employment rights.
Update from UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting: Secretary Clinton voices support for lawful employment opportunities
By: Jessica Morreale Therkelsen, Global Policy Manager, Asylum Access
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added her voice to those highlighting the need for lawful employment for refugees and stateless persons at UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting this week. She focused her remarks on the importance of forward-looking policies to address the needs and rights of refugees and stateless persons and called on countries to turn their pledges into actions.
Asylum Access has just released a new report, No Place Called Home, presenting the findings of a 2010 survey of urban refugees living in Dar es Salaam. The aim of the study is to establish the existence of an urban population in Dar es Salaam with genuine claims to refugee status – and thus rights under Tanzanian and international law. In addition, Asylum Access sought to better understand the protection needs of this population, of which no official estimation exists.
Asylum Access believes that refugees have the right to work. When we use this phrase, we are just going back to basics, centering our discussion on the four relevant rights outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention:
- wage-earning employment,
- access to liberal professions, and
- labor protections.
The right to work is a concept that appears repeatedly in international law, but it might surprise some that it also applies to refugees. In fact, during the drafting of the Refugee Convention itself, the US representative Louis Henkin said, “Without the right to work, all other rights were meaningless.”