Undesirable and Unreturnable? Policy Challenges around Excluded Asylum-Seekers and Migrants Suspected of Serious Criminality but who cannot be removed


On 27th March 2015 a preliminary workshop was held at VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as part of the ‘Undesirable and Unreturnable’ project. A report on the workshop is available here. A selection of papers that were presented at the workshop are available here.

Hosted by VU University Amsterdam and co-organised by the the Refugee Law Initiative (School of Advanced Study, University of London) and the Center for International Criminal Justice (VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands), this one-day workshop brought together academics from a range of countries, State officials responsible for developing and implementing governmental policy and experts from wider international policy bodies to discuss the challenges posed to national and international public policy by ‘undesirable and unreturnable’ migrants: excluded asylum-seekers and other migrants who are suspected of serious criminality but cannot be removed from the territory of a host State.

Following a welcome from the Dean of the Faculty of Law a VU University Amsterdam, and project leaders David J. Cantor (Refugee Law Initiative) and Joris van Wijk (Center for International Criminal Justice), the morning session of the workshop featured presentations on the country-specific situations in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy, the United States, Brazil and Canada. A paper on the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its role in refugee status determination and exclusion from refugee status was also included.

The afternoon session focused on thematic issues concerning State responses to undesirable and unreturnable migrants. Presentations covered the use of criminal prosecution and/or extradition to address the problem of migrants suspected of serious criminality. Negotiation of Memoranda of Understanding to overcome human rights obstacles to the removal of undesirable migrants was also considered. The final presentations centred on possible ‘humanitarian alternatives’ to these measures and the possibility of voluntary return or relocation by the individuals themselves.

The workshop concluded with a roundtable discussion in which central themes of the workshop were drawn out. Consideration was given to possible solutions to the problem of undesirable and unreturnable migrants and the next steps in taking forward the project. A report on the workshop is available here. A selection of papers that were presented at the workshop are available here.