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Stowaway Asylum-Seekers

Executive Committee Meetings

Stowaway Asylum-Seekers
No. 53 (XXXIX) - 1988

10 October 1988
Executive Committee 39th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/43/12/Add.1). Conclusion endorsed by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme upon the recommendation of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection of Refugees.

The Executive Committee,

Recognizing that stowaway asylum-seekers often find themselves in a particularly vulnerable situation in need of international protection and durable solutions;

Recalling its Conclusion No. 15 (XXX) on Refugees without an Asylum Country adopted at the thirtieth session of the Executive Committee;

Reaffirming the necessity of giving proper attention to the needs of stowaway asylum-seekers including arranging for their disembarkation, determining their refugee status and, whenever required, providing them with a durable solution;

Noting that there are at present no general and internationally recognized rules dealing specifically with stowaway asylum-seekers and at the same time recognizing that asylum-seekers should be given the special consideration that their situation demands;

Recommended that States and UNHCR take into account the following guidelines when dealing with actual cases of stowaway asylum-seekers:

1. Like other asylum-seekers, stowaway asylum-seekers must be protected against forcible return to their country of origin.

2. Without prejudice to any responsibilities of the flag State, stowaway asylum-seekers should, whenever possible, be allowed to disembark at the first port of call and given the opportunity of having their refugee status determined by the authorities, provided that this does not necessarily imply durable solution in the country of the port of disembarkation.

3. Normally UNHCR would be requested to assist in finding a durable solution for those found to be refugees, based on all relevant aspects of the case.