Decree closing border is disproportionate and violates rights, say organizations

A week before coming into effect, the measure breaches treaties and primarily affects people seeking asylum in Brazil

On account of the crisis generated by the novel coronavirus, the federal government has, for nearly three months now, been issuing decrees that temporarily restrict the entry of foreigners into the country. However, some of the measures directly impact the human rights of people seeking asylum. As a result of this, a number of organizations
have submitted a letter requesting some changes to be made.

Despite understanding the need for restrictions on entry and exit as a means of containing the spread of the virus, the organizations object that the federal government has not given due attention to the issues raised in opposing pronouncements – such as the Federal Public Defender’s Office, which pointed out that the decree discriminates against Venezuelans.

The new decree is scheduled to come into force next week – replacing Inter-Ministerial Decree No. 255 of 22 May 2020.

Among the changes requested by the organizations are the removal of the provisions that eliminate the right to apply for asylum during the pandemic and permit immediate deportation. These provisions breach the International Refugee Law’s principle of non-refoulement.

The lack of case-by-case assessment can put the freedom and even the lives of asylum seekers at risk. In view of these circumstances, the letter asks the government to take the considerations of the WHO (World Health Organization) into account – and replace the decree with other measures that prevent the spread of the virus without violating the rights of asylum seekers.

The letter also made two other requests, namely the inclusion of the guarantee of a full defense and the exclusion of discriminatory measures against Venezuelans. The organizations fear that the damage caused by the new decree will be irreversible and could lead to Brazil being held accountable internationally for human rights violations.

Taking into account the Federal Public Defender’s Office, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the WHO, the organizations ask that the points raised in the letter be considered during the preparation of the new text that will replace Decree 255.

»»Read the letter in full here

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