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Refugees: Sitting at the Nexus of Law Enforcement and Public Health

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Abstract

Few groups struggle more, at the intersection of law enforcement and public health (LEPH), than refugees. With a significant increase internationally in numbers of refugees over recent years, debates have focused on their rights to safety and access to medical services. These discussions, while often being very heated, fail to address the mental health and social justice issues that people with refugee background face when encountering law enforcement matters, whether during their journey or after their resettlement. We will argue that a heightened fear of police can impact significantly on their ability to seek help from police or to access public health services. Over time, when unaddressed, these issues can create an avalanche of difficulties. We argue that, regardless of which country is hosting those forced to flee their country of origin, the responsibility to protect and promote the health lies in de-stigmatised and more considered responses by the whole government. So far most responses have failed to abide by the international health regulations to which most countries are signatories.

Keywords

  • Diversity
  • Resettlement
  • Culture
  • Race
  • Ethnicity

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Throughout this chapter, we distinguish between ‘law enforcement’ (the non-negotiable application of legislation and police powers) and ‘policing’, which comprises the above, as well as a variety of negotiated, consultative, and community-oriented initiatives.

  2. 2.

    The Refugee Council of Australia provides links to a number of interactive maps where one can follow the paths of refugees around the world, as well as refugee numbers. See https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/interactive/.

  3. 3.

    An ontological vulnerability refers, universally, to the fragile nature of a human being. See Bartkowiak-Théron & Asquith, 2012; see also Chap. 4 in this collection.

  4. 4.

    A situational vulnerability refers to the circumstances in which harm can be done. See Bartkowiak-Théron, 2012; see also Chap. 4 in this collection.

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Correspondence to Penny Egan-Vine .

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Egan-Vine, P., Bartkowiak-Théron, I., Julian, R. (2022). Refugees: Sitting at the Nexus of Law Enforcement and Public Health. In: Bartkowiak-Théron, I., Clover, J., Martin, D., Southby, R.F., Crofts, N. (eds) Law Enforcement and Public Health. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-83913-0_13

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-83913-0_13

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