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The disabled body in refugee law
Dr. Andreas Dimopoulos
Brunel University
Introduction
• The interpretation and application of refugee law to
persons with disabilities reflects national legal and
...
Disability and IHRL
• Disability rights movement
• Social model of Disability
• CRPD
• Impact of CRPD on the Refugee Conve...
The trope of tragedy
• The trope of tragedy is commonly how non-disabled
people view persons with disabilities
• AC (Egypt...
The trope of abjection
• The disabled body as psychological threat to the able-
bodied: disability is what we wish to igno...
Conclusion
• Different conceptualisation of disability is required
• Bodies are culturally and socially mediated (Rebecca
...
Thank you!
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The disabled body in refugee law

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This is the paper I delivered at the Migration Law Network Conference 'A Sea of Troubles' at Birkbeck University. The rationale behind my paper was to apply some of the very exciting theories on disability and the body to refugee law. The claim of my paper was that, with a few exceptions, current refugee law and practice views asylum seekers with disabilities as abject. This in turn, mirrors deeply held social and legal practices about disability, which view disability either as tragedy or as something abject, despite the change that the social model of disability has introduced. The way forward in refugee law with regards to asylum seekers with disabilities is to recognise them as persons with potential and the ability to flourish.

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The disabled body in refugee law

  1. 1. The disabled body in refugee law Dr. Andreas Dimopoulos Brunel University
  2. 2. Introduction • The interpretation and application of refugee law to persons with disabilities reflects national legal and social practices towards disability • United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has had limited impact • AC (Egypt), [2011] NZIPT 800015, New Zealand: Immigration and Protection Tribunal, 25 November 2011 • SHH v UK (App No 60367/10), judgment of 29 January 2013
  3. 3. Disability and IHRL • Disability rights movement • Social model of Disability • CRPD • Impact of CRPD on the Refugee Convention? • By understanding how we conceptualise disability, we may achieve better protection
  4. 4. The trope of tragedy • The trope of tragedy is commonly how non-disabled people view persons with disabilities • AC (Egypt) • Albino, persistently discriminated: a trope of monstrosity • A narrative of the predicament of disability and persecution • A trope of tragedy of being disabled?
  5. 5. The trope of abjection • The disabled body as psychological threat to the able- bodied: disability is what we wish to ignore • SHH v UK • Severely physically disabled Afghan, claiming a violation of Art. 3 ECHR based on inadequate social care if returned to country of origin • Limiting interpretation of the CRPD by the ECtHR • A trope of abjection (and rejection)?
  6. 6. Conclusion • Different conceptualisation of disability is required • Bodies are culturally and socially mediated (Rebecca Mallett & Katherine Runswick-Cole, Approaching Disability, forthcoming) • Not conflating the tragedy of persecution with the embodied reality of being disabled, which is socially and culturally contingent
  7. 7. Thank you!

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