Escaping Justice

War, conflict and authoritarian regimes create refugees. On the basis of Article 1F of the Refugee Convention countries are obliged to exclude persons from refugee protection when there are ‘serious reasons for considering’ that they have committed serious crimes. These crimes include, but are not limited to, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and acts of terrorism.

The interdisciplinary Escaping Justice Project focuses on the implications of the application of Article 1F Refugee Convention. It evaluates how many persons are excluded from refugee protection, assesses what background excluded persons typically have and appraises on what factual basis exclusions are based. The project analyses governments’ reactions following decisions to exclude. How often, on what base and for what crimes are excluded persons prosecuted or extradited? How often, and under what conditions, are excluded persons sent back to their countries of origin? Are they relocated or do they manage to relocate themselves? What alternative responses exist? In particular, the project addresses the issue that excluded persons who cannot be prosecuted or deported due to human rights concerns, are left in limbo. They are undesirable, but unreturnable.

The project has clear links with CICJ’s When Justice is Done Project that looks into the question what happens to persons after being convicted or acquitted by international criminal tribunals and discusses the practical, political and normative dilemmas that stem from a lack of harmonization between international criminal law and refugee law, in particular the applicability of Article 1F Refugee Convention in particular.

Based on empirical research the Escaping Justice Project aims to identify policy challenges and promote feasible solutions. The researchers focus primarily on the situation in the Netherlands and other European countries. They adopt a variety of methods, ranging from file analysis, expert interviews and interviews with excluded individuals. The researchers regularly organize events where academics meet practitioners and provide presentations at academic conferences and in the professional field.

Research grants


Key Publications

For more information on the project contact: Joris van Wijk

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