Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Refoulement Definition:

The return of an alleged refugee to his state of origin.

From French: refoulement; to reject; backwash.

International treaties explicitly prohibit refoulement:

Article 33 of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees reads:

"Article 33. Prohibition of Expulsion of Return (Refoulement)

"No Contracting State shall expel or return (refouler) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

"The benefit of the present provision may not, however, be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is, or who, having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime, constitutes a danger to the community of that country."

Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [December 10, 1984) reads:

"Article 3. No State Party shall expel, return (refouler) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture. or the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights."

In Canadian Council for Refugees, Justice Phelan defined refoulement as follows:

"[R]efoulement (means) sending (a refugee claimant) back to the persecuting home country."

According to the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law:

"Refoulement (is) ... the expulsion or return of a refugee from one state to another where his life or liberty would be threatened.

"It is now prohibited by Article 33 of the Convention relating to the status of refugees (28-Jul-1958) which bars the expulsion or return of refugees in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion."

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