Refugees, Asylum Seekers and the Rule of Law

Örebro University, Novahuset

Örebro University, Novahuset

November 30, 2021, at 1.15-3.00 pm
Online via Zoom


Prof. Dr. Sarah Progin-Theuerkauf, Professor for EU Law and Migration Law, University of Fribourg / Switzerland


The rule of law is a fundamental value of the European Union and as such an integral part of the democratic identity of the EU (Article 2 TEU). Since 2020, the rule of law is also defined in the so-called “Conditionality Regulation” as including the principles of legality, legal certainty, prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers, effective judicial protection (including access to justice, by independent and impartial courts, also as regards fundamental rights), separation of powers, and non-discrimination and equality before the law. However, when it comes to asylum seekers (and refugees), the rule of law seems to be dead letter. Limited access to asylum procedures, shorter procedures, presumptions of safety (varying from one Member State to another), limited legal remedies, returns potentially violating the non-refoulement principle, and the criminalization of civil society organizations who help migrants are the new “normal” – a tendency that can also be detected in the proposals of the EU Commission in its New Pact on Migration and Asylum. Some Member States are particularly bad pupils. The seminar will highlight the importance of the rule of law for migrants and illustrate its practical dimension by citing some recent examples derived from case-law.


Sarah Progin-Theuerkauf is a Professor for EU Law and Migration Law at the University of Fribourg / Switzerland. She is also the Co-Director of the Center for Migration Law of the Universities of Berne, Neuchâtel and Fribourg and teaches classes on Free Movement Law, Asylum Law, Human Rights and the Bilateral Relations Switzerland - EU. Her research focusses on the Dublin Regulation, border management in the Schengen area, returns, and legal migration instruments. Sarah holds a PhD in Human Rights Law. Prior to her position with the University of Fribourg, she has practiced as a lawyer in a Zurich-based law firm.