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Tort - Rescue Workers II

Updated on August 9, 2017

While we are on the subject of the Red Cross it would be worth our while to know the functions that they perform. In addition to aid or relief work, tasks that we commonly equate with the Red Cross, they also perform another very important function called tracing. Tracing is a mechanism whereby families that have been separated, normally as a result of war or other types of social or civil unrest or discord are reunited and often it is the only means available to track down lost family members.

When it comes to conflict or conflict prone areas, the normal mechanisms are unreliable especially in instances of ethnic or racial conflict and the only mechanism that provides some sort of relief or remedy is the Red Cross and therefore it is only fitting that they be granted some sort of implied immunity especially in cases or instances of negligence.

It is also important that Red Cross members in all the countries that they operate in remain unmolested and untampered and regardless of the political motives or objectives of the day, it is in the best interest of everyone concerned to allow the Red Cross to operate with some independence.

Any dispute with or within the Red Cross should ideally be resolved through an internal mechanism for example a tribunal made up of its own members and that would allow them or grant them the flexibility that they need to operate independently.

The Red Cross also becomes crucial in the asylum seeker process. Asylum is not a right but rather a privilege and as such it is granted to those who deserve it. The process in recent times has been marred and tainted with numerous allegations and part of the problem is due to the fact that it is difficult to verify the reasons that an asylum seeker is seeking asylum.

When someone has been granted asylum, he or she is basically being given a new lease on life and therefore it should be granted to those who deserve it or those who are genuinely afraid of being persecuted because of their race, religion, color or creed. It is not a means, though that is what it has become in recent times, to escape poverty or to seek greener pastures.

Therefore, at the time the asylum seeker seeks asylum the fear of persecution must be real and tangible and it is subjective to the asylum seeker i.e. we look at the seeker’s state of mind at the time the seeker is claiming asylum as opposed to raising the question of if someone in the make or mold of the seeker would be claiming asylum because fear itself is intangible or cannot be quantified and what may or may not put someone in fear may differ from person to person.

Once the asylum seeker claims asylum at any entry point i.e. an airport or a port or if the person has entered a country illegally when the person surrenders to the relevant authorities (it is important to note that some countries do not grant asylum) the process begins. The asylum seeker is taken to a detention center and here the person is interviewed by immigration officers or officials.

The next step is crucial and it’s where organizations like the Red Cross come in. The asylum seeker is asked about his life in the country he or she has fled from. If there are documents to verify the seeker’s claim like a passport, all fair and good, but some asylum seekers don’t have passports or proper travel documentations.

During the process which is akin to an interview the asylum seeker is asked personal questions about himself or herself and the reasons he or she is claiming asylum and the seeker is given the opportunity to present his or her side of the story.

Now once the interview is over the asylum seeker is interned in a detention center and the next question that comes to mind is how do these officials determine if the story that has been told to them is true or otherwise bearing in mind that there are limited places offered to asylum seekers and there are normally thousands waiting in queue.

Under normal circumstance most asylum seekers come from war torn countries where the normal policing mechanism has broken down and there is no way to verify their story or the immigration officials might not want to contact the local authorities because they might inadvertently put the asylum seeker or his or her family in jeopardy. Hence there is a need for an unbiased organization that works in war torn countries that can verify the seeker’s story and that is where the Red Cross comes in.

Whether they choose to or otherwise is an entirely different matter but if they could say for certain that the seeker’s claim is genuine then it would go a very long way in helping the seeker get asylum. Using organizations like the Red Cross also ensures that the places that are limited for asylum seekers go to those who truly deserve it. I think the reasons that I’ve given here are compelling enough to make anyone think twice about bringing an action against the Red Cross.

© 2017 Kathiresan Ramachanderam and Dyarne Jessica Ward

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