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Roma refugees : international refugee protection and Europe's 'internal outsiders' Hortsing, Zosia Mira


The paper is concerned with the position of Roma refugees within the international refugee protection system, and how they face exclusion from asylum in an international context in which migration is represented as a threat to state sovereignty. Specifically, the paper argues that, because of their status both as Roma and as refugees, Roma refugees are represented and treated by states as a double threat to the territorial state order. As a result, they are subject to a unique logic of double exclusion that limits their ability to seek and obtain refugee protection after fleeing persecution in their home states. This exclusion operates at three distinct levels in the international system: within the European Union (EU), harmonized asylum policy among member states prevents Roma refugees from Europe from accessing refugee protection in other EU countries; in non‐European destination countries, states use interdiction measures to prevent refugees from arriving on state territory; and in the refugee determination process itself, some decisionmakers use stereotyping, racial profiling and problematic assessments of ethnicity to unnecessarily reject certain Roma claims. These three levels of exclusion operate simultaneously to limit Roma refugees’ chances of being granted refugee protection under the current system. Furthermore, these mechanisms of exclusion are often framed by a discourse that de-legitimizes Roma refugee claims and portrays these refugees as ‘bogus’ claimants or ‘illegal migrants’ out to take advantage of liberal refugee policy, rather than people potentially fleeing persecution and seeking surrogate protection under international law.

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