Refugees and asylum seekers
Generally, under human rights instruments, rights are granted to all, and not only to nationals of States parties. Thus, States parties to relevant human rights treaties are obliged to progressively ensure all economic, cultural, and social rights —including the rights to social security and health— to all individuals within their territories, providing specific protection for disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals and groups.
Refugees and asylum seekers are a special category of non-nationals and require special protective measures due to their vulnerability. They should enjoy all rights on the same footing as citizens of the State concerned.
Additionally, States parties to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, with few exception, must accord to refugees the same treatment as is accorded to nationals in regard to social security guarantees (Article 24).
In its General Comment No. 14 on the right to health, the CESCR, for example, has noted that “States are under the obligation to respect the right to health by, inter alia, refraining from denying or limiting equal access for all persons, including prisoners or detainees, minorities, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, to preventive, curative and palliative health services.”
Photo credit: “Terre d’Espoir 8″ by Anne Roberts (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).