The Brahamdagh Bugti’s request for Asylum in India has raised the debate which has focused on the foreign policy implications. Various legal issues have come under consideration.
India stands balanced to make one of the most critical decisions with respect to its refugee policy. Why this is important is because it is being done without domestic asylum law and without having signed the UN Refugee Convention of 1951. Due to all these reasons, India stands without a structured framework to address inflow of refugees. Although the country is widely known for its humanitarian approach, constitutional principles, and the customary international law has bound it. The debate has focused on the foreign policy implications while the home ministry examines Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti’s asylum claim. However, various legal issues are involved which requires serious consideration.
Questions which need to be answered
- The way in which the asylum has been made raises the question whether a person can make asylum from outside his/her own country. International law states that a person can make asylum if he/she is outside his/her own country. It is yet silent about whether the person needs to be in the territory of the country where he is filing asylum or he/she can file the asylum from any third country. Countries have adopted varying policies in this regard. While Bugti’s asylum request is accepted, it is unclear whether India has made an exception in this case or it is ready to accept applications without showing presence in its own territory.
- Bugti has claimed in a recent interview that his asylum to Switzerland was put down as Pakistan has put his party on terror watch list. It can be a politically motivated act from Pakistan but International refugee law demands a serious investigation on this from the prospective asylum country, that Mr. Bugti was seriously involved in activities which are against humanity like crimes, war crimes, etc. or not. The fundamental principle of international refugee law states that such persons need not be given asylum as doing so will be against the humanitarian spirit. The civilian character of refugees is highly influential and active combatants are excluded from the same. Therefore, the activities of Mr. Bugti needs to be seriously examined.
- India is yet to address its approach towards the larger Baloch refugee community in the future. Whether asylum is being granted to Mr. Bugti alone or to other Baloch asylum seekers or on a case to case basis? Irrespective of what it chooses, India needs to have both a policy mechanism and physical infrastructure for the management of this group.
- Since Indian Law does not even mention the term “refugee”, there are no clearly defined rights and duties of refugees. In this case, what will be the legal rights, if Mr. Bugti is granted asylum in There are so many approaches towards refugee community in India that even a common form of documentation is not issued to them. The result is that they have widely disparate access to basic rights. One example is that, while the Tibetans and Sri Lankans have IDs issued to them by the government, the Afghan and Burmese refugee communities have got only documentation issued to them by the UN which is not widely recognized. There is no clarity on this and the Baloch would be yet another group for whom a separate policy is to be issued.
- The practical and feasible way for India to address these legal issues is to have a uniform asylum law for all refugees. It would eliminate the need to revisit its historic policies each time it comes under questions in reference to protection of refugees. A national Asylum law would reduce different approaches towards different groups and also a framework would be created for the management of asylum groups in the future.