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Humanitarian Obligations

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to analyse the acts of interception, search, rescue and disembarkation in relation to migrant smuggling in the context of humanitarian obligations incumbent upon States. The humanitarian considerations is significant because it is this aspect which makes migrant smuggling crucially different from an international law point of view from other maritime security threats. The act of rescuing a vessel in distress is an international duty, and involves the granting of humanitarian assistance. The act of processing and hearing claims for asylum and the granting of refugee status in the case of a successful claim is a separate act of humanitarian assistance which follows interception or rescue. Most State actions have turned upon an interpretation of the scope of operation of the non-refoulement principle. This obligation clearly comes into play when the asylum-seeker is in a State's territory, as it does at the State's borders.

Keywords: humanitarian obligations; international law; maritime security; migrant smuggling; non-refoulement principle



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