Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Kelsey Kofford


When people envision refugee and displacement camps, rarely do they conjure up images or symbols of justice. There are no courthouses, no judges, no attorney offices, and no actual law enforcement in their virtual depictions - and with good reason. In reality, there is little to no access to justice in camplife. Refugee and displacement camps are essentially lawless. This Note endeavors to answer why there is no legal infrastructure in camps by examining the rise of the camp model, the law on the books versus the law in action in camps, and some on-the-ground problems that occur and inhibit the implementation of the law. To demonstrate the gravitas of this issue, a brief and closer look is given to one camp-specific phenomenon plaguing women and girls known as transactional sex, or prostitution for food. Finally, this Note suggests two points. First, there must be a sea change to reevaluate the "temporary" nature of these camps. As the average time spent in a refugee camp is seventeen years, in reality camps tend not to be so temporary after all. Next, accountability for practical recourse to justice in camps should be put in writing to bind a most appropriate actor or state on paper to the human rights standards that should be held in action. Because alternatives to the camp model remain infeasible in many parts of the world, necessitating that these camps (arising from life or death necessity themselves) be maintained with more dignity should become a priority for the international community.