April 12, 2012
The Ministry of Justice finally and officially announced, on April 5, a solution for the case of the Haitians who were in transit to Brazil when the issuance of the “humanitarian visa” was announced by the Brazilian government on January 12, 2012. Since they did not qualify for the visa, hundreds of Haitians were left stranded for nearly 3 months in an uncertain and vulnerable situation both in Iñapari, the Peruvian border town with the Brazilian state of Acre, and in Tabatinga, in the state of Amazonas.
The acceptance and regularization of these Haitians was necessary and Conectas had been calling for a swift, effective and transparent solution from the Brazilian government. The organization regrets the delay for the solution to be presented. According to a note released by the Ministry of Justice, “the government has decided to relax and broaden the measure [of January 12, approved by the National Immigration Council-CNIg] to include these 608 cases and it has also approved a simplified procedure for their entry into the country. They shall receive refugee status from the Federal Police, which will entitle them to a temporary work permit. The applications will be forwarded directly to the Department of Foreigners of the Ministry of Justice, which will proceed with the issuance of permanent visas. The measure shall be immediately applicable and the coordination of the entry of the Haitian citizens in Iñapari into Brazilian territory shall be conducted by the Acre State Department of Justice and Human Rights.”
There is still some doubt surrounding how the new mechanism for accepting these Haitians will be applied. Unlike those who benefitted from the “humanitarian visa” announced in January, the group of Haitians who were denied the visa must now apply for refugee status and, afterwards, await the decision of CNIg on their residency status in Brazil. Since the procedure begins with an application for refugee status, there are expectations that the National Committee on Refugees (CONARE), the government agency responsible for issuing this status, would apply a broader interpretation of Law 9474 in which Brazil may shelter as refugees anyone who is a victim of serious and generalized human right violations, such as the victims of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. However, after being consulted by Conectas, CONARE informed that there had been no broader interpretation of the law.
The first groups of Haitians entered Brazil from Iñapari this Tuesday, after being barred entrance last Friday, April 6, even though the measure had already been officially announced as being “immediately applicable”. Read more here.
“This new measure will resolve a critical situation that has been dragging on for nearly 3 months. The fact that this is an improvised solution demonstrates that the measure announced on January 12, 2012, was adopted hastily and without the due consideration of its consequences,” said Camila Asano, coordinator of Foreign Policy at Conectas.