Refugee status is regulated by two main documents – the Geneva Convention of July 28, 1951 and the New York Protocol of January 31, 1967.
Main Provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Refugees
Right to move
According to this provision, refugees have the right to free movement. In order to exercise this right, a state party to the Convention is obliged to issue travel documents in the form of a passport to refugees, as well as to recognize similar travel documents issued by other countries parties to the Convention.
The right to the preservation and unity of the family
The Convention on the Rights of Refugees provides for the granting of refugee status to all family members if the head of the family meets the criteria necessary for obtaining such status. With regard to minor members of refugee families, the parties to the Convention are committed to ensuring their full protection.
Right to social assistance
The Convention secures for refugees the right to social assistance from intergovernmental humanitarian organizations, as well as social protection authorities of the countries participating in the Convention.
Right to resettlement
The parties to the convention are obliged to grant refugees the right to resettlement when they move from their country of origin, where they are subjected to persecution for various reasons. The countries-participants of this Convention undertake to accept refugees on their territory and create conditions for them for possible further resettlement.
Extension of refugee status to others
The Convention on the Rights of Refugees calls on member states to grant refugee status also to persons who are on their territory and do not fall under the official definition of refugees.
Determination of refugee status
A refugee may be considered a person who fears persecution on the basis of nationality, race, membership of a particular social group, religion or political opinion.
In addition, a person claiming refugee status must be outside their country of origin, and the country of origin must be unable to protect him from the above persecution.
If a refugee fears that the country of origin is not able to protect him and his family from such persecution, this is also the basis for granting refugee status.
Termination of refugee status
A person who has been granted refugee status may lose it for one of the following reasons:
- if it has voluntarily availed itself of the protection of its country of origin;
- having lost the citizenship of the country of origin, acquired it again;
- acquired a new citizenship;
- voluntarily returned to the country that he left as a result of persecution and settled there;
- the circumstances on which the persecution took place no longer exist;
- the authorities of one of the countries or the country of origin recognize the person’s civil rights and obligations;
- if the person claiming refugee status has committed a crime against peace, a crime against humanity or a war crime;
- in the event that this person committed a criminal offense outside the country that granted him refugee status, before this person applied for the above status;
- in the event that this person is guilty of actions contrary to the basic principles of the UN.
Refugee civil rights
- Holders of refugee status in the territory of the countries-participants of this Convention have the right to profess their religion and perform religious rites.
- Refugees retain all property rights they had prior to applying for asylum.
- Refugees enjoy the same rights and obligations as foreigners, with the exception of those duties that they are unable to fulfill due to their status.
- Refugee status is valid on the territory of the countries-participants of the Convention for three years. Further, the asylum seeker passes into the status of a resident alien.
- Refugees have the right to employment.
- Refugees have the right to use the public education system on an equal footing with citizens of a country party to this Convention.
- Refugees have the same right to freedom of movement within the country as foreign citizens.
- The taxes levied on refugees in their commercial activities cannot be higher than the taxes levied on citizens of the country in similar activities.
Expulsion of refugees out of the country
- The state that has granted asylum may expel refugees from its territory in case of a threat to national security or in the event that the refugee’s stay in the country poses a threat to public order.
- The expulsion of refugees is carried out only in accordance with a court order. In the event of such a decision, the state is obliged to provide the refugee with a period of stay in the country sufficient to resolve issues of entry into another country other than the country of origin.
- Contracting countries may not expel refugees to the frontiers of countries where their life, health or personal freedom may be damaged.