2021 GS4 Answer

Q. “Refugees should not be turned back to the country where they would face persecution or human right violation.” Examine the statement with reference to ethical dimension being violated by the nation claiming to be democratic with open society

Question from UPSC Mains 2021 GS4 Paper

Model Answer: 

Ethical Principle of Non-Refoulement

The statement “Refugees should not be turned back to the country where they would face persecution or human rights violations” reflects a widely recognized ethical principle in international law and human rights. This principle is based on the notion that every human being has the right to seek asylum from persecution and that nations have a responsibility to protect refugees from harm.

The Responsibility of Democratic Open Societies

When a country claims to be democratic with an open society, it is expected to uphold the principles of human rights and provide a safe haven for refugees fleeing persecution or human rights violations. However, there are instances where such nations violate this ethical principle by turning back refugees to their country of origin or denying them access to asylum.

The Violation of Non-Refoulement

Such actions violate the ethical dimension of non-refoulement, which is a fundamental principle of international refugee law. Non-refoulement prohibits states from returning refugees to a country where they would face persecution or human rights violations. This principle is enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention and is considered a customary norm of international law.

A Breach of International Law and Ethical Principles

When a nation claiming to be democratic and open violates the principle of non-refoulement, it not only goes against international law, but also violates the ethical principles of justice and human rights. Denying refugees access to asylum or forcibly returning them to their country of origin where they face persecution or human rights violations is a breach of their fundamental right to life, liberty, and security of person.

The Consequences for Refugees

Moreover, denying refugees access to asylum or forcibly returning them to their country of origin can have severe consequences for their physical and mental well-being. Refugees who are returned to their country of origin may face imprisonment, torture, or even death. This can have a chilling effect on other refugees who may be too afraid to seek asylum in the future.

Conclusion

In conclusion, denying refugees access to asylum or forcibly returning them to their country of origin where they face persecution or human rights violations is a violation of the ethical principles of justice and human rights. It is the responsibility of nations claiming to be democratic with an open society to uphold the principle of non-refoulement and provide a safe haven for refugees fleeing persecution or human rights violations.

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