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Revisiting the “Ideal Victim”Developments in Critical Victimology$
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Marian Duggan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781447338765

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447338765.001.0001

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The ‘ideal migrant victim’ in human rights courts: between vulnerability and otherness

The ‘ideal migrant victim’ in human rights courts: between vulnerability and otherness

(p.123) Six The ‘ideal migrant victim’ in human rights courts: between vulnerability and otherness
Revisiting the “Ideal Victim”

Carolina Yoko Furusho

, Marian Duggan
Policy Press

In light of the polarized debate surrounding the limits of ethical State responses to migration, two radical discourses can be identified. On the one hand, it is deeply worrisome how the notion of the deviant and dangerous migrant ‘other’ in societal imagination bears an intimate link to the ‘moral panics’ underlying national security discourses and increasingly stricter ‘crimmigration’ laws. The ascension of this derogatory stereotype resonates with Nils Christie's assessment that the more foreign and less human a person may be, the closer they come to the notion of ‘ideal offender’. On the other hand, expansion of globalized networks of solidarity has propelled a powerful albeit double-edged discourse on migrant vulnerability in human rights advocacy, framing migrants as ‘ideal vulnerable victims’ of human rights violations as a means to tackle the anti-migrant discourse which purports to construct the image of migrants as a priori offenders until proven otherwise. In this chapter, Christie's ‘ideal victim’ theory will underpin a critical analysis of the recognition of human rights victims in the context of migration, focusing on how regional human rights courts adopt the notion of ‘vulnerability’ as legal heuristic to ascertain the victim status of migrant applicants.

Keywords:   vulnerability, power, inequality, migration, human rights, international courts

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