The Foreigner Act, created during the military dictatorship (1964–1985), and the role of the Federal Police in immigration control were denounced by civil society organizations at the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council this Monday, June 15.
In an oral statement, Conectas, Cels (Center for Legal and Social Studies) and the Catholic organizations Sefras, Missão Paz, Pastoral Carcerária and Cáritas Arquidiocesana de São Paulo stressed that the law, since it is security-focused, considers immigrants as a threat to national security. The application of the law, they explained, gives the Federal Police a monopoly on immigration control and the regularization of immigrants – which exceeds their constitutional powers.
The organizations called for the approval of a new legal framework underpinned by the guarantee of human rights, regardless of immigration status, and the creation of a civilian body to replace the police in the enforcement of immigration policy.
Click here to read the statement in full.
A bill already exists (Senate Bill 288/2013) that would substitute the Foreigner Act and guarantee the rights of immigrants who live or travel through Brazil. The text proposes, for example, that the process of regularization should be available regardless of immigration status, and that a mechanism be created to provide humanitarian shelter to immigrants in vulnerable situations.
Another complaint presented by the organizations is the existence of the “Connector Space” at the International Airport of Guarulhos, in São Paulo, “where immigrants prevented from entering the country are held arbitrary and with poor access to information and in constant violation of due process”, claim the organizations.
The organizations submitted that a permanent presence by the Federal Public Defender’s Office at the airport, together with oversight of the Federal Police by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, would be a decisive step towards correcting the situation. This recommendation has already been the subject of two formal requests by the organizations to the authorities.
The solution will be based on a technical agreement signed in January this year by the Ministry of Justice, the Federal Attorney General’s Office for the Rights of the Citizen, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, the municipal government of Guarulhos and UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) to identify and assist the immigrants held in the airport.