United States. President's Commission on Immigrati.

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relatives in the Soviet Union and will continue to do whatever it considers
possible and advisable to help them. It has, however, no means of comlielling a
change in Soviet policy and can offer no assurance that any resident of the
Soviet Union, whatever his citizenship, will be able to secure an exit visa for
departure to the United States. The Embassy must further continue to refrain
from taking action in individual cases whenever it seems likely that such action
would only increase a person's difficulties with local Soviet authorities.



In accordance with your request for information concerning action taken by
the Chapultepec Conference at Mexico in 1945, concerning the restrictions to be
imposed on undesirable aliens and propaganda agents, there is attached hereto
a copy of Resolution VII of this Conference : Elimination of Centers of Subversive
Influence and Means of Preventing the Admission of Dangerous Deportees and
Propaganda Agents.

Resolution VII of the Final Act of the Inter-American Confebence on
Problems of War and Peace, Mexico City, Mexico, February 21-Mabch 8,

VII. elimination of centers of subversive influence and means of preventing


Whereas the American Republics have affirmed their adherence to the demo-
cratic ideal, and it is desirable to safeguard this ideal; the dissemination of
totalitarian doctrines in this Continent would endanger the American democratic
ideal ; the Third Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American
Republics recommended in Resolution XVII the adoption by the Governments of
the American Republics of a comprehensive series of measures for the prevention
of subversive activities by the Axis powers and their satellites and provided for
the creation of the Emergency Advisory Committee for Political Defense to study
and coordinate the measures recommended.

In conformity with the objectives of said resolution, the American Republics
participating in this Conference have sought to erect, individually and collec-
tively, an effective structure of political defense to counteract the program of
nonmilitary warfare of the Axis powers and their satellites.

The Axis powers, although they realize they have lost the war, nevertheless
hope to win the peace by reconstructing their centers of influence throughout the
world, by disseminating their destructive ideology and by creating discontent
and discord among the American Republics.

The dangers inherent in overconfidence require continued vigilance in carrying
out and strengthening the measures recommended by the Governments of the
American Republics in the pertinent resolutions of the Third Meeting of the
Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republic.

The Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace resolves to
reaffirm, in accordance with Resolution XVII of the Third Meeting of the Minis-
ters of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, the determination of the
participating Governments to prevent individuals or groups within their respec-
tive jurisdictions from engaging in any activities fomented by the Axis powers or
their satellites for the purpose of endangering the individual or collective security
and welfare of the American Republics, and accordingly recommends —

1. That the participating Republics intensify, individually and collectively,
their efforts to eradicate the remaining centers of Axis subversive influence in
the Hemisphere, whether such influence be exercised by the Axis powers or by
their satellites, or by the agents of either.

2. That the participating Republics, in addition to any other measures that
they individually consider effective to prevent Axis-inspired elements from secur-
ing or regaining vantage points from which to disturb or threaten the security
or welfare of any Republic, adopt to this end the following specific measures :

(a) Measures to prevent any person whose deportation has been deemed neces-
sary for reasons of Continental security from further residing in this Hemisphere,
if such residence would be prejudicial to the future security or welfare of the

(&) Measures to prevent the admission to this Hemisphere, now and after the
cessation of hostilities, of agents of the Axis powers or their satellites.

3. That the Governments of the participating Republics continue to apply
technical measures for the coordination of police activities and the resolutions
and recommendations of the Emergency Advisory Committee for Political


4. That the Emergency Advisory Committee for Political Defense prepare and
submit to the Governments specific recommendations for the effective execution
of the above recommendations and for the firadual readjustment, in accordance
with democratic principles, of the political defense structure of the American
Republics to the new conditions of the period following the cessation of hostilities.

(Approved at the plenary session of March 6, 1945.)


December 1, 1952.

Asylum for Political Refugees in Western Europe and the British



Asylum to political refugees is generally granted by the Western European and
the Western British Commonwealth nations, and in the cases of West Germany,
France, and Italy the right to political asylum is set forth in their constitutions.
While the administrative procedures and specilic laws governing the grant of
asylum to political refugees vary from country to country, as indicated in this
report, these practices and laws nevertheless conform with the 1951 Geneva
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This convention has been signed
by all of the Western European countries dealt with in this report except France,
and tlie French Government has declared its intention of adhering to the con-
vention. Although the British Commonwealth countries other than the United
Kingdom have not signed the Geneva Convention, which pertains largely to con-
tinental rather than oversea problems, their legislation and practices do not
conflict with the convention's intent.

None of the Western European countries, either by means of legislation or
general administrative practices, prohibit the entry of specific categories of
political refugees on the grounds of the refugees' pro-Fascist or pro-Communist
views or past or present membership in totalitarian political parties and other
organizations. In the absence of any such blanket restrictions, each case is
considered on its own merits and in light of the information available on the
particular refugee concerned. In general, the Western European countries are
subjecting individuals seeking political asylvun to increasingly intensive security

I. federal republic of GERMANY

A. Legal proinsions

1. Allied. — The granting of asylum to refugees * is one of the reserved powers
of the Allied High Commissioner which, under law No. 23 of March 17, 1950,
granted refugees certain rights in regard to their civil status in Germany and
under law No. 10 of October 27, 1949, established the right of the Allied High
Commission to expel any alien because of conviction by an Allied court or in the
best interests of the Allied High Conmussion.

2. German. — The Basic Law of the Federal Republic provides in article 16 that
"the politically persecuted enjoy the right of asylum." This provision is novel
in German law and therefore has to be interpreted according to the standards
of international law. The right of as^ylum can be abrogated in cases where it is
used for antidemocratic purpo.ses, according to article IS of the basic law.*
Articles 16 and IS have become operative in regard to displaced persons.

* RpfuRees are defined here as aliens (exchiding German citizens or persons assimilable
to the status of German citizen) who are stateless or no longer enjoy tlie protection of
their country of origin. The displaced persons form the maior group anions; the refiisrees.

* This is the narrower interpretation and is suRgested by Wernicke art. 18. Kommentar
zum Bonner Grundegesetz, p. 4. The wider interpretation would permit forfeiture of the
right of asylum of any alien who abused one or more of the following basic rights : free-
dom of the press, teaching, assemhly. and association ; the secrecy of the mail, postal
services, and telecommunications ; and the right of property.


By the law of April 25, 1951, on the legal position of homeless aliens in the
Federal Republic, displaced persons were given a large number of public and
private rights usually reserved for German citizens. The law provided in par-
ticular that a displaced person may be deported only for reasons of public
security and order ; that he may not be deported to a state which would persecute
him, and that he may appeal a deportation order to the proper court. This law
can be extended to other refugees by the Federal Government with consent of the

The Federal Republic has signed the United Nations Convention on Refugees,
and a United Nations Commissioner for Refugees is located in Bonn.

The Federal Republic has also signed the contractual agreement with the
Allied Powers and, subject to ratification, has undertaken in it (1) to implement
the above-mentioned law of April 25, 1951 ; (2) to ratify the United Nations Con-
vention ; (3) to enact appropriate asylum legislation; and (4) to observe the
above-mentioned Allied High Commission law No. 23 until it is replaced.^

B. Practice

1. Allied. — It has been Allied practice to insure the welfare and protection of
bona fide refugees in Western Germany, to shield them against an involuntary
return to their country of origin, and to gradually transfer these functions to
the Federal Republic. The Allies have insured in particular full maintenance
of many refugees, have given them a preferred legal status, and have supported
a large emigration program while protecting, refugees against deportation to a
totalitarian country.

2. German. — The Allies have formally transferred the care of the displaced
persons to the German authorities, and have let the Federal Republic handle all
but in name the problem of asylum for refugees. The Allied High Commission
still retains ultimate jurisdiction over such refugees and strives to have the
I'ederal Republic continue refugee care at the high level'set by Allied postwar

The German attitude toward non-German political refugees is basically un-
friendly, as most of the persons now seeking asylum come from areas, such as
Czechoslovakia or Poland, which have been foremost in their expulsion of German
ethnic groups. The Germans have complied with Allied requests for favorable
treatment of refugees because they wished (1) to do away with the extrateiTito-
rial status which refugees in Germany have long enjoyed under Allied protection,
(2) to make a favorable impression on world opinion, and (8) to insure con-
tinued Western support in solving the problems created by the presence of mil-
lions of German refugees within the boundaries of the Federal Republic.


France has a long tradition of willingness to grant asylum to political refugees.
So strong is this tradition, in fact, that it has become one of the fundamental
laws of the Republic and is so stated in the preamble of the constitution. In
the years 1918-39 Fi-ance was the refuge for some 80,000 Russians, and more
than a million Central and Eastern Europeans, and 400,000 Spaniards fleeing
the civil war. They resided in France under the protection of the League of
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. During the war years of 1940-44 the
influx of refugees virtually ceased and those in France were treated with dis-
crimination according to nationality. The postwar years brought a swelling
tide of refugees into France. The French Government estimates that there
are presently between 360,000 and 380,000 refugees in France (about 160,000
Spaniards, 100,000 Eastern and Central Europeans, and the remainder Russians).
Reliable unoflJicial estimates, however, place the number at approximately

French policy and practice with regard to political refugees is based on the
law of July 25, 1952 (Journal Officiel, July 27, 1952, law No. 52-893), which
provides for the creation of an Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless
Persons. This law was passed to fulfill the accord of February 28, 1950, with
the IRO, according to which France agreed to take over direct financial assist-
ance and relief for refugees and assumed the obligation of providing legal and
administrative protection for the refugees within its borders.

Any refugee can gain temporary political asylum (entry) in France by merely
presenting himself as a refugee at any frontier point of entry (decree of May 2,
1938). His claim for status as a refugee is then investigated. The law of

3 Ch. VII of the agreement of May 26, 1952.


July. 25, 1952 (art. 2). states that the Ofliee for Protoction of Ilefugeos and
Stateless Persons (Refugee Office) will recognize as refugees —

(1) All persons so recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner of
Refugees, and

(2) All persons so designated by the "definitions of article 1 of the Geneva
Convention of July 28, 1U51. relative to the status of refugees."

In effect these two articles define as a refugee any person who fled his native
country or country of national residence out of fear of persecution because of
race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or uiemlxn'shii) in a particular gToup.

After certification as bona tide refugee, the refugee can tui'n to the llefugee
Office for such documents as will permit him to live a normal civil life and enjoy
the protection of domestic legislation and international accords bearing on
refugee protection. The llefugee Office is empowered to certify his identity,
signature, family, and civil status. It also helps him secure (from the Minister
of the Interior, of Labor, etc.) such documents as identity cards, visas, and resi-
dence and work permits, so that he can reside and work in France, enter his
children in school, travel, etc.

Should an alien be refused refugee status, he has a course of appeal. The
law of July 2.5 provides that a Commission of Appeals examine appeals addressed
to it by those affected by "measures within the purview of articles 31, 32, and
33 of the Geneva Convention of July 28, 1951." These articles refer to orders
Issued by the French Minister of Interior or the prefects of police that refuse
entry to, exi)el, enforce the removal of, or deny the right of residence to, the
refugee. The refugee must request a ruling within 1 week of issuance of the
order affecting him.

The Refugee Office is not directly concerned with relief and financial assistance
for the refugee.


No Scandinavian government encourages the arrival of political refugees in the
sense that it advertises itself as a haven for the politically persecuted. All of
them, however, follow the practice of accepting bona fide political refugees. Such
persons are not returned against their will either to the country of origin or to a
third country. All of them are permitted to remain in the country, subject to
certain x'egulations. In Sweden, for example, they are forbidden, for a time at
least, to engage in political activity or to reside in areas of great housing
shortage. In Norway and Sweden, and the same is believed to be true in Den-
mark, they are also permitted to apply for citizenship after the legally prescribed
number of years required of all applicants.

A. Sweden.

Because of its location in the Baltic, Sweden annually receives the largest
number of political refugees of the three major Scandinavian countries. Many
thousand Baltic refugees were permitted to remain in Sweden after World
War II. Each subsequent year additional persons fleeing from various satellite
coimtries have arrived. In .Tune 1952, for example, 5 Latvian fishermen
were granted political asylum, as were 27 refugees from Yugoslavia in September
of the same year. Periodically, Poles and other nationalities from satellite ships
in Swedish ports refuse to return to their home country and are granted political
asylum. In addition, the Swedish Government, as a humanitarian gesture, has
accepted a few incapacitated refugees from displaced-person camps in Germany.

The practice of the Swedish Government in receiving political refugees is based
both on the provisions of the laws and Government iwlicy. It is not obligated
by its laws to return political refugees, and on this point it has the strong support
of public opinion. Moreover, Sweden's extradition treaties with I'oland and
the Soviet Union are no longer in effect.

IJ. Norway

Norway had more than 1,000 refugees at the end of 1951, most of whom arrived
as a consequence of World War II. About half of the.se had been brought to the
country by the Norwegian Government since the end of World War II, largely
as a humanitarian gesture. Out of the large group of Polish forced laborers
brought to Norway by the Germans during World War II, a substantial number
refused to return to their native land and were granted political asylum. Only
about GO persons have entered Norway illegally in the postwar period, but these
have been permitted to stay as political refugees, as provided by Norwegian law.
One Russian and one Pole were granted asylum in December 19.50, for example.
Apparently because of its location, Norway does not receive annually as many
political refugee's as Sweden


C. Denmark

Less specific information is available with respect to Danish policy toward
political refugees. All of the thousands of German refugees left in Denmark at
the end of World War II have been repatriated. A small number of refugees of
other nationalities remain in the country. Denmark apparently receives very
few ijolitical refugees from the satellite countries of Eastern Europe. It is
believed that, as in Norway, bona fide political refugees are granted asylum.
There are no known instances where Denmark has returned such persons against
their will during the postwar period. Moreover, under Danish law, the Minister
of Justice is authorized to make arrangements to provide the documents required
for residence in Denmark to foreigners who are not in a position to secure from
their country of origin the normal papers issued for travel abroad. It is not
known, however, how this law is administratively applied.


Italy's basic law on the subject of admission of political refugees is found in
the constitution, article 10 of which states, "The foreigner, who in his own
country, is prevented from effectively exercising the democratic liberties guar-
anteed by the Italian Constitution, has the right of asylum under conditions
established by law. Extradition of the foreigner for political offenses is not

Article 26 also specifies that in no case may extradition be granted for political

The legal rights of foreigners in general are defined in No. 16 of the Disposizioni
sulla Lcgge in Generate (attached to the Civil Code) : "The alien is admitted
to the enjoyment of the civil rights granted to the citizen on the basis of reciprocity
and excepting the provisions contained in special laws.'' No specific reference
is made to political refugees as such.

Prior to the existence of the IRO, refugees in Italy were, in practice, subject
to the discretionary rulings of the police. During the IRO's period of operations,
an agreement between the IRO and the Italian Government defined the status
of refugees and the procedures concerning their sojourn in the country. In 1951
Italy signed the Geneva Convention on Refugees and, following the dissolution
of the IRO, an agreement was signed between the United Nations High Commis-
sioner for Refugees and the Italian Government (April 2, 1952). Under this
agreement, a joint committee composed of Italian governmental representatives
and officials of the High Commissioner's office in Rome was given the task of
determining the eligibility of refugees in Italy. A positive determination of the
eligibility of a refugee brings him under the constitutional provision in regard
to political asylum. He is then considered by the Italian authorites as a
"poltical refugee." When a refugee is declared "eligible," he receives through his
local questura (police headquarters) a travel document, as well as a sojourn
permit valid for 4 months, which will be automatically renewed.

Upon arrival in Italy, a refugee able to identif.v himself I'eceives a temporary
sojourn permit pending inquiry into bis eligibility status. If he is able to sup-
port himself, he may go where he wishes ; otherwise, he is sent to a so-called
"open" camp. If unable to identify liimself, he is sent to the "closed" camp
(for "undesirables" and those of unknown identity) pending identification and
detei-mi nation of eligibility.

The High Commissioner's ofl!ice has ])een tmable to olitain an over-all agreement
of the Italian Government to give refugees the right to work. The Government's
attitude is conditioned by the domestic economic conditions of the country, which
has about 2,000,000 unemployed persons.


The Government of the Netherlands, whose treatment of political refugees is
determined by administrative decision rather than specific legislation, contends
that it cannot accept large numbers of refugees because of its own iwpulation
problem. In September 1952, a subcommittee of the U. N. Refugee Commission
agreed that the Netherlands was unable to receive additional refugees.

Since 1945 nearly 12.000 refugees were admitted to the Netherlands, and approx-
imately 9,500 have remained, including 2,000 refugees who entered during the
occupation or immediately thereafter and who were permitted to remain. For-
mer Polish soldiers and displaced jiersons found in camps in West Germany are
among the other major groups of these refugees.



Belgium has long been noted for its willinuness to grant asylum to iiolitical and
other refugees. The Belgian Constitution (art. 128) provides that every
foreigner who finds himself on ISelgiau soil enj(»ys protection in person and prop-
erty except in cases determincMl by law. lender the law of October 1, 1833, extra-
dition cannot be granted for offenses of a political nature.

Trior to its signature in 1!)")! of the (ieneva Convention on refugees, the Belgian
dovernmiMit, under the terms of the London Agreement of 1J)46, had provided
refugees with certificates (>stal)lisliing tlieii' identity and status, thus enabling
them to regularize their position with the local authorities. Also in lOHl Belgium
pas.sed a new alien law providing for certain guaranties against the expulsion
of refugees. Among these guaranties are provisions that expulsion cannot be
pronounced without the prior agreement of a consultative commission ccmiposed
of an honorary magistrate, a lawyer, and a person chosen at the request of the
alien threatened with exijulsion from a list drawn up by royal decree.

Political refugees, like other aliens, are subject to the law of February 12, 1897,
which pi'ovides that aliens legally domiciled in Belgium which disturb public
order can be required by the Government to change their place of residence or
be deported. Aliens which are not legally domiciled in Belgium can be deported
under the law of January 9, 1932.

Effective January 1, 1952, the Belgian Government has applied the provisions
of article 17 of the Geneva Convention relating to wage-earning employment.
Iiefugees who fulfill one of the requirements of this article — i. e., who have
completefl 3 years' uninterrupted residence in Belgium or who have a spouse

Online LibraryUnited States. President's Commission on ImmigratiHearings → online text (page 17 of 35)