Federal justice system prohibits deportation of vulnerable migrants in the pandemic
The current inter-ministerial ordinance on borders prohibits the entry of migrants by land and water
Venezuelan migrants queueing at the Federal Police border checkpoint in the town of Pacaraima (RR) to register entry into the country (Photo: Leona…
On Wednesday (19) an injunction was filed by the Federal Justice system in Acre to prevent the Brazilian government from deporting or repatriating vulnerable migrants who reach the borders, forcing the country to accept requests for asylum and residency during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The current inter-ministerial ordinance on borders prohibits entry of migrants by land and water and states that anyone who flouts this will be prevented from requesting asylum.
The decision taken by the Justice system is in response to a public civil action lodged by the Federal Union Public Defender´s Office (DPU), The Federal Prosecutor´s Office, Conectas Human Rights and Cáritas Arquidiocesana in São Paulo. According to these organisations, the ordinance violates the Asylum Act, the Migration Act and a number of international commitments made by Brazil concerning migration.
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The decision taken by Judge Jair Araújo Facundes, at the 3rd Federal Court of Acre means the suspension of deportation, repatriation and any other compulsory exit measure of migrants in a vulnerable situation and those seeking humanitarian shelter or asylum in Brazil. According to the magistrate, new deportations like those that happened recently in the state “would lead to severe risk to the lives, health and integrity of people who appear to be refugees, some of whom are women, some pregnant, children and teenagers.”
“In a pandemic like the one we are living, sheltering these people is not only a necessary decision, but also a humanitarian one. It is entirely possible to conciliate respect for national migration and asylum laws with public health procedures for containing Covid-19.” Said Camila Asano, Programme Director at Conectas. “In this way Federal Justice is avoiding the repetition of lamentable situations of compulsory illegal removal of people who have been forced to leave their own countries, in the midst of a something as serious as a pandemic.”
According to Asano, the government has eased restrictions to allow entry for foreigners with an investor residency visa and has allowed entry for tourists, but not for vulnerable migrants.
“Economic interests are being conciliated with public health concerns. Unfortunately, this concern is not being extended to refugees.” Said Asano. “The injunction will put further pressure on federal government to avoid further aspects that violate human rights from appearing in the next ordinance, such as the prohibition of the right to request asylum in Brazil, or discrimination against people coming from Venezuela.”
The current ordinance on borders is valid until the end of August. The new text should be published by the Civil Office next week.