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

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

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

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