Migration law, migrants’ rights and legal Identity

Human rights of migrants; right to international protection; family reunification; legal identity

Children, young people and families in appellate asylum proceedings in Belgium: a legal ethnography

Description: This project takes an interdisciplinary, contextualised and multi-actor approach to analyse how key stakeholders involved in the adjudication of Belgian asylum cases in appeal perceive, mobilise and practice children’s rights. Research methods from law (case law analysis) and anthropology (ethnography) will be combined to study the role and perspective of children and young people, their parents or guardians, lawyers, and judges from the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL). Research questions: (1) how do individuals experience and understand children’s rights (perceive); (2) to what extent do they define relevant problems in terms of children’s rights (mobilise); and (3) which norms and practices shape the internal legal culture by which the CALL operates (practice)? The project contributes to the field of ‘critical children’s rights studies’.
Website research project: https://hrc.ugent.be/research/childrens-rights-in-asylum-proceedings/
Promoter(s): Ellen Desmet
Researcher(s): Sara Lembrechts
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Law and Criminology
Period of time: 2020 - 2024

Family reunification of Turkish migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands: a comparative study of legal consciousness in light of evolving policies

Description: This research focuses on the perceptions and experiences of Turkish migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands in relation to family reunification. From a sociolegal perspective it examines how they experienced this process and what their perceptions are regarding family reunification. Through in-depth interviews the researcher wants to gain deeper understanding in how perceptions of these people interrelate with policy changes over the years. This research aims to answer the central question how legal consciousness interrelate with evolved laws and policies.
Promoter(s): Ellen Desmet
Researcher(s): Ayse Güdük
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Law and Criminology
Period of time: 2018 - 2023

Gender-(in)sensitivity in credibility assessments of applications based on sexual or gender-based violence in the European asylum procedure

Description: Lore’s doctoral research echoes the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR, 2013) concern that asylum authorities might base credibility assessments on stereotypical and erroneous perceptions of gender. Her research aims to analyse the gender-(in)sensitivities in credibility assessments of asylum applications based on sexual or gender-based violence (SGBV) in the European asylum procedure (going beyond only ‘rape’ as a type of SGBV). Her research will collect data from 3 complementary resources: existing literature, asylum authorities (through case law analysis and KAP (Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices) surveys) and asylum seekers themselves (through qualitative interviews). This triangulation of input will expand the understanding of the asylum procedure and its gendered legal challenges and will contribute to the further theorization of asylum-specific gender studies.
Promoter(s): Ellen Desmet , Ines Keygnaert
Researcher(s): Lore Roels
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Law and Criminology , Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Period of time: 2021 - 2025

Language and legal counselling: A linguistic ethnography of multilingual support in the legal assistance to asylum seekers in Belgium

Description: This project proposes a linguistic-ethnographic study of multilingual practices in legal advice consultations with asylum seekers in Belgium. It investigates how the multilingual resources and strategies used by lawyers and their minority language clients are valued, managed and legitimized in these consultations, thereby aiming to develop more nuanced understandings of language support needs in migration-related service encounters.
Promoter(s): Katrijn Maryns
Researcher(s): Marie Jacobs
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
Period of time: 2018 - 2022

Lawyering between counselling and adjudication: a sociolinguistic ethnography of the legal assistance to asylum seekers in Belgium

Description: This study aims to investigate how the refugee identity is discursively co-constructed at the intersection of counselling and adjudication in the Belgian asylum procedure. Given the crucial, yet understudied position of lawyers throughout the procedure, the study departs from their perspective to analyse the circulation of discourse across frontstage and backstage asylum encounters. Adopting a sociolinguistic- ethnographic approach, it will examine a) the position of the lawyer on the crossroads between structure (the legal framework) and agency (opportunities to advocate), b) the interactional management of linguistic diversity and c) the impact of meta-communicative work in relation to the frame conditions of front- and backstage interaction. In addition to advancing our insights into the (meta)discursive positioning of the lawyer, the study aims to reduce stakeholders’ linguistic vulnerabilities across the procedure.
Promoter(s): Katrijn Maryns
Researcher(s): Marie Jacobs
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
Period of time: 2022 - 2025

Lost in transit? Deconstructing the il/legalization of migrants dwelling in European ‘transit zones’.

Description: In their attempts to regulate migration, Western states have produced and enforced various forms of il/legal status upon migrants. This research project provides a case study of how migrant il/legality is produced in the particular context of North-European transit zones. On the one hand, it examines the socio-legal processes through which state actors force migrants in transit zones into a position of illegality. For instance, how and on what grounds do different states use EU law to refuse and/or circumvent the process of migrants’ asylum applications? What impact does this have on migrants’ onward trajectories? On the other hand, the research looks into the socio-legal support migrants are offered in these zones of transit (either by state actors, civic actors, or among migrants themselves) as these forms of support potentially constitute strategies to counter the illegal status of migrants and legalize their presence instead.
Promoter(s): Robin Vandevoordt , Ellen Desmet
Researcher(s): Maud Martens
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences , Faculty of Law and Criminology
Period of time: 2022 - 2026

PROTECT the Right to International Protection. A Pendulum between Globalization and Nativization?

Description: PROTECT The Right to International Protection. A Pendulum between Globalization and Nativization? is an EU-funded research project launched on 1 February 2020. We study the impacts of the UN's Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration, which are two non-binding frameworks promoting international cooperation and responsibility-sharing as key solutions to handle global refugee flows. By studying how the Compacts are received and implemented in different countries, and how they interact with existing legal frameworks and governance architectures, we investigate the Compacts' impact on refugees' right to international protection.
Promoter(s): Frank Caestecker
Researcher(s): Eva Ecker
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
Period of time: 2020 - 2023

Reclaiming the future? Critical perspectives on social work and policies on undocumented migrants

Description: The structural exclusion of illegalised migrants from Belgian society, their limited rights and restricted access to social services render it difficult for social workers and volunteers to provide more than just material support, situated in the present. This research project aims to gain a deeper understanding of structural social support practices and specific approaches to socio-legal and psycho-social support through ethnographic research methods. Therefore, the project focuses on local and municipal initiatives that link conditional welfare services, namely shelter, to intensive social counselling towards certain future perspectives for illegalised migrants. At the same time, the research endeavours to encompass how social workers, volunteers and illegalised migrants themselves construct informal forms of social support.
Promoter(s): Robin Vandevoordt , Ine Lietaert , Ellen Desmet
Researcher(s): Soline Ballet
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences , Faculty of Law and Criminology
Period of time: 2021 - 2025

Safe with the neighbours? Legal and actual protection of forced migrants in the Global South: perspectives on and from Morocco.

Description: The EU increasingly seeks to outsource or 'externalise' its international responsibility for the protection of refugees and other migrants to third countries, such as Morocco. This PhD research examines, from a multidisciplinary perspective, what legal and actual protection exists for forced migrants in Morocco. The research evaluates the extraterritorial responsibility of states under international refugee and human rights law (doctrinal law perspective), examines what migrants themselves seek and understand to be protection, or 'protection consciousness' (socio-legal perspective), and looks at Morocco’s Africa diplomacy regarding asylum and migrants’ rights (critical policy perspective).
Promoter(s): Ellen Desmet
Researcher(s): Ruben Wissing
Faculty / Faculties: Faculty of Law and Criminology
Period of time: 2018 - 2022