Organizations take legal action against law restricting access to healthcare by migrants in Boa Vista
Federal Public Defender’s Office and Conectas file a Public Civil Action requesting a fine of R$100,000
Line of Venezuelans outside the Office of the Federal Police in Boa Vista attempting to regularize their immigration status in Brazil. The Federal Police receives 75 residency and 75 refugee applications per day. Hundreds of people are also seeking support from the UNHCR volunteers, who work in partnership with the Federal Police to organize their documents and schedule appointments.
On Thursday, January 30, the Federal Public Defender’s Office and Conectas jointly filed a Public Civil Action in the federal courts against a municipal law in the city of Boa Vista that restricts the treatment of migrants in public health clinics and children’s hospitals.
The organizations are asking the courts to lift the restriction on foreigners established by the new municipal law under penalty of daily fines of R$100,000. Despite the request for urgency, the federal judge Bruno Hermes, of the 4th federal court, determined that the federal and municipal governments have 72 hours to analyze whether an injunction – provisional ruling – will be granted.
“Migrants and refugees who come to the state of Roraima usually find themselves in a situation of extreme social and economic vulnerability, and they unquestionably rely on the assistance of public services, in particular health and immigration services,” reads the legal action.
“In addition to being inhumane, the measure goes against the international duties assumed by Brazil and violates the new Migration Law approved on the federal level, which prohibits any discriminatory treatment by Brazilian public services,” said Camila Asano, program coordinator at Conectas.
The Boa Vista municipal government, after being notified by civil society organizations about the unconstitutionality of the law, vetoed it through the Municipal Office of the Prosecutor-General. However, the City Council overturned the veto a few days later.
“This measure goes against the humanitarian initiatives developed within the framework of Operação Acolhida [Operation Welcome] for Venezuelans,” added Asano.
About the Law
Boa Vista Municipal Law No. 2,074 was published on January 7, 2020. According to the text of the law, the justification is “to ensure care for Brazilians in the services performed daily in the public health clinics and children’s hospital in the municipality of Boa Vista”.
The legislation also mentions “regulating the maximum number of treatments for foreigners while costs that result in the effective loss by Brazilians of their right to health are not covered”.
The law, which contains six articles, establishes that treatment of migrants may not exceed 50% of the medical services, tests and drugs provided by the public health system.
>>> Read the Public Civil Action in full here
>>> Read Law No. 2,074/2020 and the veto by the Municipal Office of the Prosecutor-General here