Claire Walkey from the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre writes about why we should rethink refugee registration. Registration is the first moment when asylum-seekers become known by the state, so we might assume that states will always want to implement registration procedures to monitor people. But her fieldwork in Kenya shows that this is not always the case as here the government actually stopped the registration procedures. According to her we therefore need to “look for answers in the meaning and politics of registration itself”, as registration can be a form of empowerment for refugees:
Acknowledging the legal recognition that registration can offer refugees sheds light on why states, resistant to hosting refugees, might choose not to register them. It is too easy to assume, given security practices especially in the West, that states will always pursue bureaucratic surveillance and monitoring of refugees. In Kenya, it is politically prudent to resist legal recognition, even at the expense of bureaucratic surveillance. The promotion of registration by the international community may therefore find little traction by focusing purely on the security gain for states, particularly in contexts with weak administrative infrastructures. It is prudent instead to rethink registration and recognize that at times it offers more to refugees than to states.