The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented displaced persons crisis. There are more than 70 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced from their homeland and are in search of a new country in which to settle. There is no international appetite to absorb these people. There is only one legal pathway by which displaced people can claim an entitlement to settle in another country. This is pursuant to the Refugee Convention. More than 140 countries including the United States are signatories to this convention. The difficulty experienced by displaced people is now particularly acute so far as entry into the United States is concerned because the Trump Administration has reduced the number of offshore refugees it will take from 110,000 to 18,000. This is partly as a result of an unprecedented backlog of asylum seekers that are at border points or in the United States. Given the intense competition for settlement places in the United States, it is imperative that decisions regarding refugee eligibility are made in accordance with transparent and coherent legal standards. Refugee status can only be granted if a person fears persecution on the basis of one of five designated grounds. One of the most frequently engaged grounds is religion. This is especially important given the amount of people who are displaced because of wars and turmoil which have a religious basis. Despite this, there is no coherent or consistent definition that has been given to religion in the context of the Refugee Convention. This article addresses this gap in the literature and the jurisprudence and proposes a definition of religion which is consistent with the objective of the Refugee Convention and accords with concepts that have been utilized in other countries, namely Canada and Australia. The definition this article adopts is wider than that which is currently applied in the United States and will have the effect of increasing the amount of people that can obtain asylum pursuant to the Refugee Convention. This will not only contribute to the flourishing of these individuals but also the integrity of the refugee determination process.
Brienna Bagaric and Jennifer Svilar
A Fresh Approach To What It Means To Be a Religious Refugee,
48 Pepp. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr/vol48/iss3/1