Asylum seekers in China to get legal status

July 2nd, 2012 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 2 (IANS) A new Chinese law is all set to give refugees coming to China the right to stay in the country.

An Exit and Entry Administration Law, approved by China’s parliamentary committee Saturday, will allow refugees to stay in China after obtaining an ID card from public security authorities, China Daily reported Monday.

Asylum seekers will also be allowed to use a temporary ID card to stay in the country while their refugee status is under examination, it added.

The new law combines two existing laws that pertain to exiting and entering the country and to foreigners. The old laws will expire when the new one takes effect July 1, 2013, the report said.

China is now a party to two international refugee pacts — the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. Even so, its Legislation Law states the international protocols will only be in force only after being written into domestic laws.

According to Liu Guofu, an immigration law expert at the Beijing Institute of Technology, the new law will fill a legal vacuum. It is expected to give rise to more administrative and legislative provisions meant to protect the rights and safety of refugees in China.

Asylum seekers are often treated as illegal foreign residents in China, said Liu.

They often flee their home countries in haste with incomplete documents and China has no legislative means of separating the management of refugees from regular foreign visitors, the expert added.

Liu says refugee protection entails having government agencies cooperate with one another and even with international organisations, making it difficult.

Although China has no offices formally charged with taking care of refugees, the Ministry of Public Security is generally responsible for matters pertaining to status recognition, and repatriation and civil affairs authorities should attend to refugee resettlement, said Liu.

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