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Beyond limbo: theorizing, analyzing and realizing human rights protection of non-removable migrants

Non-removable migrants are caught in a legal limbo: they cannot stay, but they cannot be returned either. This new type of migrant often faces long-term situations of legal uncertainty, while living in deplorable conditions. It currently remains unclear how domestic law should address this group in a human rights-compliant manner. This PhD project, which is situated at the intersection of human rights law and migration law, aims to contribute to both the budding international scholarship on non-removable migrants and the current understanding of Belgian migration law. The overarching research objective is to theorize, analyse and realize the human rights protection of non-removable migrants, specifically in the Belgian legal system. First, an in-depth understanding of the group of non-removable migrants will be obtained through a detailed categorization exercise. Secondly, the protection offered by human rights (both in theory and in current law) will be delineated in a comprehensive human rights model. Thirdly, Belgian migration law will be evaluated in light of this human rights model, in order to identify gaps in the current legal framework. Finally, recommendations will be formulated based, among others, on an analysis of alternative approaches and comparative research into the German Duldungsstatut and the Buitenschuldvergunning in the Netherlands


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