Decree closing border challenged in court for discriminating against people coming from Venezuela

Federal Public Defender’s Office files lawsuit against the measure

People on foot attempting to cross the border between Venezuela and Brazil, in
Pacaraima. People on foot attempting to cross the border between Venezuela and Brazil, in Pacaraima.

The Federal Public Defender’s Office filed a Public Civil Action on Friday, May 27, calling for the repeal of a new decree that temporarily restricts the entry of foreigners on account of its discriminatory nature.

Published in the Federal Gazette on May 22, the decree orders the partial closure of the Brazilian border by land, water and air for people of other nationalities, making exceptions for immigrants residing in the country, foreigners who are “spouses, partners, parents, children or guardians of a Brazilian” and legal migrants bearing a National Migration Identity Card.

The exceptions, however, do not apply to people coming from Venezuela. The decree permits the transit of people between sister cities – municipalities split by a border between two countries – but excludes those that share a border with a Venezuelan municipality.

The Public Defender’s Office claims that the decree is causing numerous negative impacts on hundreds of thousands of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Brazil. Conectas and the Cáritas Archdioceses of São Paulo, which requested on Monday, June 1, to be admitted as an amicus curiae – to assist the court with technical expertise on the case – also point out that the decree substantially violates legal, constitutional and conventional standards on the rules of entry into the country.

This is because border authorities can now disqualify any request for asylum and conduct summary deportations and repatriations.

“The inexcusable disqualification of asylum is an authoritarian and inhumane measure that ignores the fact that these people are often seeking international protection, and it enables them to be returned to a country where their life and physical integrity are in danger,” reads an excerpt of the amicus curiae request.

The organizations also warn about the absence of clear rules on the treatment of vulnerable groups, such as children, adolescents, the elderly and potential victims of human trafficking.

>>> Read the Public Civil Action in full here
>>> Read the amicus curiae request in full here

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