Brazil recognizes 17,000 venezuelans as refugees

The country now has the highest number of Venezuelans recognized as refugees in Latin America

Camargo/Agência Brasil Camargo/Agência Brasil

On Friday, January 31, Conare (National Committee for Refugees), which reports to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, granted refugee status to 17,000 Venezuelans. As a result of this decision, Brazil is now the country with the highest number of refugees with this nationality recognized in Latin America, totaling 37,000 people. 

The granting of refugee status in groups to speed up the migration process was approved by the committee in December last year. Part of the analysis is now performed by digital tools that cross-reference the data. According to Conare, without these tools the analysis of the cases could take up to two years. 

The strategy has already been used before: in December 2019 the committee recognized a group of 21,000 Venezuelans as refugees. 

Conare filtered applications from people aged over 18 who do not have formal residency in Brazil that is required for the immigration process, who have not left the country since their application and who have no criminal record. To speed up the procedure, applicants who meet these criteria do not need to be interviewed. 

For Camila Asano, program coordinator at Conectas, speeding up the procedure for recognizing refugee status for Venezuelans is essential as it is the most effective way to guarantee protection for these people.

“Recognizing refugee status is the most effective way of guaranteeing greater protection for an already vulnerable population, such is the case with Venezuelans on account of the humanitarian crisis in their country. It is essential to accelerate this process because in addition to ensuring that they have legal security with their regular status in Brazil, refugee protection also comes with a guarantee of non-refoulement of these people to their country of origin,” she explained.

Asano also noted that this procedure was established after a previous decision by the committee that recognized, in June 2019, the situation of serious and widespread human rights violations in Venezuela. 

“The prima facie decision to grant asylum in cases in which Conare has already declared a situation of serious and widespread human rights violations is the right move and puts Brazil at the forefront in the protection of refugees. It is worth noting that any process to the contrary, of rejecting applications, must also follow the necessary procedures that include an individual analysis of the application and an interview with the applicant. If any steps in the due process are neglected in the case of a rejection, this is considered a violation of due process, in conflict with Brazil’s tradition of being a reference on the matter,” she said.

Refugees, according to the first international agreements on the subject (the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol), are people who have fled armed conflicts or persecutions for reasons of race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group or political opinion in their home country. The expanded definition of refugees was established by the Cartagena Declaration (1984) and includes serious violations of human rights. The Brazilian refugee law of 1997 incorporates the expanded definition, making it one of the most advanced legislations in the world.


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