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.
- ‘Undesirable and Unreturnable? Policy challenges around excluded asylum-seekers and other migrants suspected of serious criminality but who cannot be removed’. This two-year project is a joint initiative of VU University’s CICJ and London University’s Refugee Law Initiative. It brings together a range of expert participants from the worlds of academia and policy-making to discuss policy solutions for individuals who are undesirable but unreturnable. The project is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and ran in 2015-2016.
- ‘Study on the exchange of information between European countries regarding persons excluded from refugee status’. This project evaluates to what extent and how European countries share information on persons excluded from refugee protection on the basis of Article 1F. The project was funded by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and ran in 2015.
- ‘Jihadism in the immigration process – A closer look at identification’. Since the increase in numbers of persons seeking asylum in Europe, there have been several media reports on the possible arrival of jihadist fighters to Europe and their possible presence in the immigration process. In addition, there have been reports of recruiting activities for the jihad in asylum reception centers. This study aimed to explore 1) how alleged jihadists or jihadist activities are identified within the immigration process, and 2) to what extent systems are in place to share this information among actors involved in the immigration process. The project was funded by the Research and Documentation Centre of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice (WODC) and ran in 2016.
- ‘Case management, identity controls and screening on national security and 1F exclusion‘. In 2014 and 2015 many European countries were confronted with a steep rise in asylum applications, primarily by Syrian nationals. This dramatic increase led to exceptional challenges with regard to the identification, registration and screening of these newcomers. How have Norway, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden dealt with these challenges? The project was funded by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and ran in 2017-2018.
- 2020 Bolhuis, M.P., Ditzel, T. & van Wijk, J., Vergelijking van 1F-uitsluitingen van Syrische asielzoekers in Nederland en België [Comparison of 1F exclusions of Syrian asylum seekers in the Netherlands and Belgium], Asiel & Migrantenrecht, 2020(8), 385 390.
- 2020 Bolhuis, M.P. & Van Wijk, J., Seeking asylum in the digital era: social-media and mobile-device vetting in asylum procedures in five European countries, Journal of Refugee Studies (advance access).
- 2019 Van Wijk, J. & Bolhuis, M.P., The Removal of Undesirable Asylum Seekers. In: Juss, S. (ed.) Elgar Research Handbook on Refugees. Cheltenham: Elgar Publishing, 403-416.
- 2019 Bolhuis, M.P. & Wijk, J. van, Practices in establishing the identity and screening on national security and exclusion aspects in Syrian asylum cases in five European countries, Migration Policy Practice, IX(2), 13-17.
- 2018 Bolhuis, M.P. & Wijk, J. van, Case management, identity controls and screening on national security and 1F exclusion. Final report of a study commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, UDI.
- 2018 Bolhuis, M.P., Narrowing the Impunity Gap? How host states deal with alleged perpetrators of serious crimes excluded from international protection: a case study of the Netherlands. PhD Dissertation.
- 2017 Wijk, J. van & Bolhuis, M. P., Awareness trainings and detecting jihadists amongst asylum seekers; a case study of the Netherlands, Perspectives on Terrorism, 11(4), 39-49.
- 2017 Wijk, J. van & Bolhuis M. P., The asylum-jihadism nexus: non-government actors and detection of jihadism among asylum seekers. A case study of the Dutch Refugee Council and the guardianship organization for unaccompanied minors (Nidos), SSRN Working paper.
- 2017 Cantor, D.J., Wijk, J. van, Singer, S. & Bolhuis, M.P. (eds.) Special Issue: “Undesirable and Unreturnable” Aliens in Asylum and Immigration Law, Refugee Survey Quarterly, 36(1).
- 2017 Bolhuis, M.P., Battjes, H. & Van Wijk, J., Undesirable but Unreturnable Migrants in the Netherlands, Refugee Survey Quarterly, 36(1), 61-84.
- 2016 Van Wijk, J. & Bolhuis, M.P., ‘Jihadisme en de vreemdelingenketen – De signalering van vermoedelijke jihadisten onder asielzoekers en jihadistische activiteiten in en rond asielzoekerscentra nader onderzocht’ ,[Jihadism in the immigration process – a closer look at identification]. Final report of a study commisisoned by the WODC.
- 2016 Bolhuis, M.P. & Van Wijk, J., Ongewenste maar onuitzetbare migranten in Nederland [Undesirable but unreturnable migrants in the Netherlands], Asiel- en Migrantenrecht, 9, 412-418.
- 2016 Bolhuis, M.P. & Van Wijk, J., Alleged terrorists and other perpetrators of serious non-political crimes; the application of Article 1F(b) in the Netherlands, Journal of Refugee Studies, 29(1), 19-38.
- 2015 Bolhuis, M.P. & Van Wijk, J., Study on the exchange of information between European countries regarding persons excluded from refugee status. Final report of a study commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, UDI.
- 2015 Reijven, J. & Van Wijk, J., Alleged perpetrators of serious crimes applying for asylum in the Netherlands: Confidentiality, the interests of justice and security, Criminology and Criminal Justice 15(4), 484-501.
- 2015 Cupido, M. & Van Wijk, J. van, Testifying behind bars; detained ICC witnesses and human rights protection, chapter in: Stahn, C. (ed.), The Law and Practice of the International Criminal Court, Oxford University Press.
- 2015 Moore, B. & Wijk, J. van, Asylum seekers falsely implicating themselves in international crimes, Migration Letters, 12(1), 91-101.
- 2015 Bolhuis, M.P. & Wijk, J. van, Alleged war criminals in the Netherlands; excluded from refugee protection, wanted by the prosecutor, European Journal of Criminology, 12(2), 151-168.
- 2015 Bolhuis, M.P. & Wijk, J. van, De Arabische Lente en artikel 1F Vluchtelingenverdrag [The Arab Spring and Article 1F Refugee Convention], Justitiële Verkenningen, 41(3), 90-100.
- 2014 Bolhuis, M.P., Middelkoop, L., Wijk, J. van, Refugee Exclusion and Extradition in the Netherlands; Rwanda as Precedent? Journal of International Criminal Justice, 12(5), 1115-1139.
- 2014 Reijven, J. & Wijk, J. van, Probleem opgelost? Hoe van asiel uitgesloten vermeende oorlogsmisdadigers toch rechtmatig in de EU kunnen verblijven [Problem solved? How alleged war criminals excluded from refugee protection can still lawfully remain in the EU], Asiel- en Migrantenrecht, 7, 256-261.
- 2014 Reijven, J. & Wijk, J. van (2014), Caught in Limbo: How Alleged Perpetrators of International Crimes who Applied for Asylum in the Netherlands Are Affected by a Fundamental System Error in International Law, International Journal of Refugee Law 26(2), 248-271.
- 2013 Wijk, J. van, When International Justice Collides with Principles of International Protection; assessing the consequences of ICC Witnesses seeking asylum, defendants being acquitted and convicted being released, Leiden Journal of International Law, 26(1), 173-191.
- 2013 Wijk, J. van, Verbanning en brandmerking in de 21e eeuw? De gevolgen van de toepassing van artikel 1F Vluchtelingenverdrag [Banishment and branding in the 21st century? The consequences of applying Article 1F Refugee Convention], Tijdschrift over Cultuur en Criminaliteit, 3(1), 15-31.
- 2012 Wijk, J., van, Asielzoekende getuigen bij het Internationaal Strafhof; een steeds Nederlandser probleem [Asylum seeking refugees at the International Criminal Court, a more and more Dutch problem], Nederlands Juristenblad, 87(9), 594-597.
- 2012 Reijven, J. & Wijk, J. van, Dealing with the consequences of Article 1F of the Refugee Convention in the Netherlands: A crisis for migration policy-makers and excluded asylum claimants alike?, Migration Policy Practice, October issue, 26-30.
- 2011 Wijk, J. van, Als vluchtelingen (mogelijk) daders zijn; 1F uitsluiting van de asielprocedure en vervolging van oorlogsmisdrijven [When refugees are (possibly) perpetrators; 1F exclusion in the asylum procedure and prosecution of war crimes], Tijdschrift voor Criminologie, 53(4), 310-327.
For more information on the project contact: Joris van Wijk