media and human rights

Authored by: Kerry Moore

The Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138665545
eBook ISBN: 9781315619835
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite national politicians’ oft cited platitude that, ‘we have a proud tradition of providing sanctuary to those who need it’, regimes governing the admittance and control of asylum seekers and refugees in wealthy, ‘receiving’ countries have become increasingly restrictive (Moore 2012). Since at least the early 2000s, scholars have pointed to the ‘securitisation of migration’ across Europe, in North America and Australia (Andreas 2003; Buonfino 2004; Diez & Squire 2008; Gerard & Pickering 2013; Huysmans 2000; Huysmans & Buonfino 2008; Pickering 2004; Walters 2006). Indeed, during the current ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe, although concerns for better co-ordinated, humanitarian responses have clearly been evident in some national press, calls for ever-increasing security controls within and across borders continue to be heard in mainstream news media and political discourse, especially and most notably in UK right-wing tabloids (Berry et al. 2016). Such calls follow in the wake of at least a decade and a half of escalating political and media hostility towards asylum seekers and refugees (e.g. Buchanan et al. 2003; Kaye 2001; Kushner 2003; Lloyd 2003; McKay et al. 2011; Pitcher 2006; Saxton 2003; Schuster 2003; Threadgold 2009; Vas Dev 2009). Hostilities have been predicated upon fears about overwhelming numbers of newcomers and the threats they are assumed to present. Concerns about anticipated pressures on welfare, education, health and other social resources; fears about differences of cultural and religious practices or values; and suspicions associating asylum seekers with propensity towards crime, extremist politics or terrorism have led to demands for pre-emptive or deterrent policy responses. In fact, since the 1990s, most asylum seekers have, effectively, been criminalised by the closing down of legal routes to safety in Europe and ever-more restrictive interpretations of rules aimed at stamping out ‘abuse’ of the system (Flynn 2003; Schuster 2011). An image of illegality more generally has been encouraged by the increasing convergence between immigration and criminal systems in many liberal democratic countries (Miller 2005; Welch 2012) – a trend labelled by US criminologist Juliet Stumpf as ‘crimmigration’ (Stumpf 2006). Alongside the criminalisation of migrants, scholars have also highlighted the use of immigration law as a social control mechanism, with detention, deportation and deprivation of citizenship used symbolically and materially to exclude ‘undesirable’ individuals from the sphere of ‘rights’ in the name of protecting national populations (Guild 2009; Kanstroom 2005; Legomsky 2007). What ­critical criminologists call ‘popular punitivism’ has clearly established a significant foothold in the terrain of immigration control, playing a prominent role in the politics of mobility (Franko Aas & Bosworth 2013).

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