RESEARCH & POLICY
M.A.P believes that legislative change is lasting change. In the absence of a uniform refugee law and policy, refugee protection in India is governed by a combination of judicial pronouncements, ad-hoc executive orders as well as any law that would otherwise apply to foreigners residing in the country. As a result of a lack of established processes, defined rights and entitlements, refugees become further marginalised in their host country.
In light of the above, M.A.P has implemented the below initiatives in collaboration with key stakeholders, with the primary objective of bringing about systemic change in the current policy landscape for refugee protection in the region.
The absence of a uniform and institutionalised legal framework for the protection of refugees has forced them to the margins. The Indian government’s demonetization policy (which sought to remove 500-rupee and 1000-rupee notes from circulation and rendered them illegal) drastically affected refugees as they have traditionally been excluded from formal financial systems. With this background, M.A.P is studying the evolving financial policies from a refugee lens and identifying legal avenues that refugees could avail to access financial systems and services. The project seeks to constructively engage with government and other relevant authorities for refugees’ financial inclusion, design and implement a targeted financial education programme for the refugee community, and build capacities of refugee focal points and aid organisations.
Digital Storytelling as a Tool to Map Legal Engagement
M.A.P is currently the Indian partner in a multi-jurisdictional project headed by the University of York. The project seeks to chart refugees’ legal engagement across 4 countries, namely: India, Egypt, Hong Kong and Malaysia, and use the findings as a tool to improve refugees’ access to justice. The project is innovative in that it captures experiences of legal encounters between lawyers and refugees in the form of digital stories narrated by refugees themselves. This not only provides insight into the operation of asylum laws but also allows refugees to take control of their own narrative and put forth their stories from their own perspective. Ultimately, the project seeks to take a fresh look at refugee protection globally.
In 2015, M.A.P worked with a sitting M.P to draft a statute to establish an asylum framework in the country that would fuse international human rights norms along with India’s established asylum processes. On 18 December 2015, this statute was successfully introduced in the Indian Parliament as The Asylum Bill 2015. This piece of legislation was a landmark achievement given that it was the farthest a bill focused on refugees has ever reached in the legislative process.
Access to Economic & Social Rights
In 2014, M.A.P prepared a report in collaboration with UNHCR India, titled “Refugee Protection in India: Access to Economic and Social Rights.” This report is a compilation of the Indian Government’s various socio-economic welfare schemes that are accessible to refugees and asylum-seekers. The report has been published by UNHCR and is presently being used by them as a tool to integrate refugees within the mainstream protection mechanisms through dissemination of easily accessible and coherent information. This collation and analysis undertaken by M.A.P is the first time that research of this nature has been undertaken in India.