We have hearing of particular days being celebrate in memory of different events , people etc..In this contexts we come across world refugee day which means it is internationally celebrated.International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.

The World Refugee Day is observed every year June 20 to raise awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. Observance of this day seek to draw attention to the plight of refugees and also to celebrate their courage and resilience and renew commitment to solve refugee problems. The theme for World Refugee Day 2018 is “Now More Than Ever, We Need to Stand with Refugees.”

Definition of ‘REFUGEE’ :

United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, defines refugees as those who have fled their country owing to well-founded fear of persecution because of the their race, religion, nationality, membership in particular social group or political opinion. UN has revealed that record high of 68.5 million individuals have now been displaced worldwide due to war, poverty, persecution and other events.

On this day, United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRA) also known as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hosts various events and announces theme for its campaign. With this, UNRA seeks to draw public’s attention to the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide who have fled their homes forcefully due to war, conflict and persecution.

The World Refugee Day was proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) h by passing Resolution 55/76 on 4 December 2000. The resolution was passed to mark 50th anniversary of UN Refugee Convention, 1951. Since then it is observed annually with different themes. Prior to passing of this resolution in 2000, African Refugee Day was formally celebrated on 20 June in several countries especially by Organization of African Unity (OAU) member states. The theme for year 2017 was “Embracing Refugees to Celebrate our Common Humanity”.

India’s Refugee policy :

There are numerous aspects pertaining to refugees, which are of major importance both to India, as a country and to the refugees, particularly in the context of law enforcement. Given the security scenario prevailing in the country, particularly arising out of the role of some of the neighbor’s in this regard, an utterly humanitarian matter like the ‘refugees’ has come to be influenced by considerations of national security.

India does not have on its statute book a specific and separate law to govern refugees. In the absence of such a specific law, all existing Indian laws like The Criminal Procedure Code, The Indian Penal Code, The Evidence Act etc. apply to the refugees as well.

In the case of India, the decision as whether to treat a person or a group of persons as refugees or not is taken on the merits and circumstances of the cases coming before it.

In 1989, when the Myanmar authorities started suppressing the pro-democracy movement in that country and about 3,000 nationals of that country sought refuge in India, the GOI declared that in accordance with well-accepted international norms defining refugee status, no genuine refugee from Myanmar would be turned back and in fact; they were accepted as refugees by the GOI. Similar is the case of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees crossing the sea to enter the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The Government of India followed a specific refugee policy regarding Sri Lankan refugees and permitted them entry despite the fact that the refugees did not have travel documents.

Even though India is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on refugees and also the 1967 Protocol, it is a signatory to a number of United Nations and World Conventions on Human Rights, refugee issues and related matters. Hence its obligations in regard to refugees arise out of the latter. India has also voted affirmatively to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms rights for all persons, citizens and non- citizens a like.

Refugee Status Determination in India:

*Indian government determines refugee status for asylum-seekers from Tibet and Sri Lanka.
*India also allows UNHCRto recognize, register, and protect certain groups of people after recognizing them as refugees.
*The UNHCR carries out a Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedure.
*The procedure starts with registration as asylum seekers and is followed by an interview.
*The claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Constitutional Safeguards:
 1) Article 14: Requires India to “not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” 2) Article 21: prevents the state from allowing any person to be “deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” 3) Article 51(c): State is to foster respect for International laws and treaties.

SC Judgements: 
1)In Dongh Lian Kham vs. Union of India (2016), the Supreme Court stated that the principle of non-refoulement is part of the guarantee under Article 21 of the Constitution of India irrespective of nationality.
2)In NHRC vs. Arunachal Pradesh(1996), the Supreme Court held that the state is bound to protect the life and liberty of every human being, citizen or otherwise.

However, there is a need for a proper formal structure for asylum management with rising number of refugees in India .  Also need to develop own policy on refugees that adapts to the situation in South Asia without imitating those models designed in the West. It is important to ensure legislated rights, freedoms and basic standards of living to refugees

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