REFUGEES

1. Introduction : There are several aspects of refugees that are extremely important to both India as a country and the refugees themselves in terms of law enforcement. In light of the country's current security position, a purely humanitarian concern such as "refugees" has become touched by national security considerations, particularly as a result of the acts of some of the country's neighbors in this respect. While the Indian Constitution defines law and order as a state subject, the Union government is entirely responsible for foreign affairs and international borders. As a result, a number of authorities, both at the state levels, have been tasked with dealing with refugee issues related to law enforcement. Furthermore, because the burden of the refugee crisis is borne to a greater extent, if not entirely, by the State administration, all rules affecting refugees are set by the Union government. Immigration officials at land checkpoints, international airports, and seaports, as well as a host of state police officers, are all involved in law enforcement that impacts refugees in some way. As the term security implies, all of the aforementioned sorts of employees have the onerous task of safeguarding the country's national and internal security as their first and primary obligation. They must ensure that the country's norms are followed when it comes to refugees, while also considering security concerns. It is also their job to ensure that the humanitarian aspects of refugees are not disregarded in general. Human rights problems are commonly recognized in any situation involving "refugees." These difficulties must, of course, be addressed by law enforcement officials. A complete grasp of the circumstances surrounding specific refugee situations by the responsible law enforcement agency or even a single official, from a humanitarian and human rights standpoint, would open the way for taking care of both security and humane components. Simultaneously, understanding the country's rules and how security and enforcement agents function would make it much simpler to look after refugees, whether they are government employees or not (including international agencies, NGOs, and other non-governmental organizations). 2. Meaning of the term “refugee” : The term "refugee" can refer to a person departing his country because of life-threatening situations. According to international law, refugees are persons who have been forced to flee their home country and are unable or unwilling to return due to fear of persecution because of their race, religion, ethnicity, or political beliefs. The above definition is based on the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, which was expanded by the African Convention and the Cartagena Declaration in Latin America in 1984, which embraced those fleeing violence like civil war. However, refugees, undocumented or illegal migrants, and asylum seekers are sometimes used interchangeably, leading to misunderstanding. They are nothing alike. Asylum seekers, like refugees, seek shelter from persecution in another nation. However, they are not yet officially recognized as refugees and must wait for a judgment on their asylum application. While there is no universally agreed definition of migrants, Amnesty International defines migrants as "those who are neither asylum seekers nor refugees who are remaining outside their place of origin." Though refugees are compelled to flee due to violence or persuasion, migrants may choose to cross borders voluntarily in order to better their life. Unlike refugees, who are unable to return home safely, migrants are free to do so. 3. Rohingyas and statelessness : A stateless person is someone who is not regarded as a national by any state under the operation of its law, according to the 1954 UNHCR convention on the status of stateless individuals. The Rohingya refugees are a clear example of individuals who are stateless. As a consequence of their misrepresentation as foreigners, suspected Bangladeshi nationals, and poor in India, a large number of them have been and continue to be imprisoned for breaching the Foreigners Act of 1946, the Passports (Entry into India) Act of 1929, and other crimes. The Rohingya Muslims who were forcibly driven from Myanmar today reside in India and Bangladesh in terrible conditions. The military onslaught on them prompted a large number of them to flee Myanmar. Burmese Muslims, Bengali bilinguals, and Burmese speakers constitute the majority. They departed in early 1978 when the Burmese government launched a drive to search out "illegal immigrants," which was followed by the Burmese Army's repeated military invasions in the Arakan region. They are largely descendants of agricultural laborers who migrated from Bengal to the Arakan region when the border between the two countries was unclear. Due to a lack of national registration documents, they were compelled to depart since they were unable to authenticate their Burmese citizenship. They have become the world's most oppressed non-citizen minority. 4. The refugee scene in India : A quick look at the refugee situation in India can help put the complexities of law enforcement in a variety of circumstances involving refugees into proper perspective. For decades, India has been a refugee shelter. Since the time when almost the entire Zorastrian people migrated to India to avoid religious persecution in Iran. The most important point to remember is that no refugee has ever come from Indian soil, with the exception of transboundary migration following the country's partition in 1947. On the other hand, it has always been a welcoming country, expanding its multi-cultural and multi-ethnic fabric in the process. India has welcomed refugees from all religions and groups, in keeping with its secular policy. It is important to note that India has welcomed refugees not only from its neighbors but also from far away nations such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda since its independence. 5. Laws Governing Refugees in India: The 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol on Refugee Status are not signed by India. One or both of the instruments have been signed by 149 countries. The 1951 UN Convention on Refugees establishes the principle of non-refoulment, which declares that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face a significant risk of death. This is now considered an international customary law standard. All foreign nationals in India, including refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people, are governed under the Foreigners Act 1946, the Registration of Foreigners Act 1939, the Passport Act 1920, and the Citizenship Act 1955. The Foreigners Act 1946, the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, the Passport Act 1920, and the Citizenship Act 1955 control all foreign nationals in India, including refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless individuals. The Passport Act of 1920 makes it essential for everyone entering India by water, land, or air to have a passport, and it also makes it illegal for anyone who does not have one to enter. Trespassers may face a sentence of up to five years in jail or a fine of up to Rs 50,000. The Foreigners Act of 1946, on the other hand, provides that if a person's nationality is not obvious, it is up to that individual to prove whether or not they are a foreigner. The Act empowers the Indian government to hold a person until they are deported back to their home country. Another example is the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019. This Act, which has been widely criticized, aims to make it easier for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who sought refuge in India on or before December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution or fear of persecution to obtain citizenship. 6. Refugees and the Constitution All citizens of India are guaranteed certain rights under the Indian Constitution. Foreigners or those who are not Indian nationals are referred to as "aliens" in the Constitution, notwithstanding the absence of the word "refugee." As a result, those seeking refuge in India have been accorded some essential rights. Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees these rights, stating that the state cannot deny any individual inside Indian territory equality before the law or equal protection under the law. Another right is Article 21, which states that no one's life or personal liberty may be taken away without following proper legal procedures. In the decisions of Louis De Raedt v Union of India and State of Arunachal Pradesh v Khudiram Chakma, the Supreme Court of India enlarged this right to encompass foreigners. This right, which is universally applicable to both citizens and immigrants, also includes the right to a fair trial. Articles 245 and 246 allow the central government the authority to enact legislation concerning topics that roughly fall under the headings of foreigners, aliens, and immigrants. In India, the legal framework for protecting refugees has often been characterized by a jumble of administrative whims and judicial declarations of constitutional rights. The Indian Constitution establishes a number of fundamental rights that are constantly expanded by the Indian court system. The Supreme Court of India's decision in National Human Rights Commission v State of Arunachal Pradesh, which prevented the forceful deportation of Chakma refugees from the state, is a notable example of this logic. The court further ordered the state government to ensure that all Chakma people residing in the state have their lives and personal rights respected. Inconsistencies and arbitrary government practices, which are driven more by political than legal imperatives, have repeatedly hampered access to fundamental rights and institutions. 7. Problems faced by refugees in India : The legal situation of refugees is terrible due to the numerous issues they confront and the lack of appropriate legislation. Some nations have adopted refugee laws based on internationally accepted principles to safeguard their refugees. The nations that have signed the agreement have established a framework for identifying refugees and addressing their safety concerns. Despite the fact that India has not joined the convention, it protects refugees; yet, "the system for choosing refugees remains inconsistent." Because there is no universal rule for identifying refugee status in India, there is no single authority that deals with refugees. Even after so many years, there are several flaws in the procedure for dealing with refugee policy. This is due to the government's failure to pass a refugee statute. The legal situation of refugees is terrible due to the numerous issues they confront and the lack of appropriate legislation. 8. Need for the Refugee Law : India is one of the most prominent refugee-receiving nations in the world. The Indian government has done a good job with a few refugee settlements, but it has yet to draught comprehensive refugee legislation. Official practices regarding refugees and asylum seekers are uneven and arbitrary since there are no clearly defined statutory standards. The 1946 Foreigners Act highlights the chaotic nature of Indian refugee law and practice. There is no national refugee legislation in India that can establish refugees' rights and monitor their treatment. As a result, different refugee settlements have received varying degrees of security. This was reflected in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016. In principle, India looks to be committed to refugee protection, but in fact, she treats different communities differently. Neither the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees nor the 1967 Protocol have been signed by India. Many have said that India's unwillingness to ratify the agreement was due to the fact that it was too Eurocentric. Nonetheless, India has recognized refugees' right to non-refoulment and has maintained its core commitment to refugee protection. In truth, India has signed a slew of human rights documents and is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and others, all of which call on India to provide refugees a right to self-determination. 9. Conclusion: Due to a lack of specific refugee law, acquiring access to organizations that protect the refugee community in India has been difficult. They have been denied basic protection and pushed farther into a perilous situation due to a lack of national legislation on refugee protection, rights, and entitlements. As a result, the refugees have grown completely dependent on the government, with little remedy against the government's frequent abuses. The Indian legal system is insufficient to address the issue of statelessness. REFERENCES : 1. https://www.factchecker.in/explained/world-refugee-day-refugee-crisis-in-india-policy-challenges-foreigners-act-1946-unhcr-756455 2. https://www.epw.in/journal/2020/23/perspectives/understanding-citizenship-and-refugees-status.html 3. https://blog.ipleaders.in/legal-status-refugees-india/ 4. https://lexlife.in/2021/06/30/a-critical-analysis-on-refugees-and-asylum-seekers-in-india/ BY:- NAVEEN TALAWAR

REFUGEES