Public Defender’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office and NGOs file lawsuit against restrictions placed on vulnerable migrants

After the deportation of Venezuelans, institutions legally challenge the decree that closes the land borders for migrants and refugees in Acre

In recent weeks, the state of Acre has been the stage of several episodes of rights violations caused by the closure of the borders during the pandemic. Migrants have been summarily deported and have had to spend days on the bridge connecting Brazil to Peru after seeking asylum at the border city of Assis Brasil.

To prevent the country from continuing to breach international commitments to protect refugees and ensure compliance with the Refugee Law and the Migration Law, the Federal Public Defender’s Office and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office filed a public civil action on Monday, August 17, in partnership with Conectas Human Rights and the Caritas Archdioceses of São Paulo.

The current inter-ministerial decree on borders bans the entry of migrants by land and water and prevents anyone entering the country in this way from applying for asylum. 

“This rule contains a contradiction and is discriminatory. On the one hand, it authorizes the entry of tourists who can afford to come by plane, but on the other it prevents a family that has fled a conflict and, after a hard land crossing, could be taken in here and have their asylum request analyzed,” explained Camila Asano, program director at Conectas.

Since March, the federal government has issued 18 decrees placing restrictions on the entry of migrants as a measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the organizations, the case aims to “protect these vulnerable groups from abuses committed based on an abusive interpretation of sub-legal norms”.

“The federal government, by making the rejection through repatriation or ‘deportation’ based on a temporary rule unbacked by law, not only returns migrants to a country of which they are not even nationals,” states the case filed in the federal justice system in Acre. “In fact, it knows and is well aware that migrants, many of whom are children, adolescents, people with disabilities, elderly and women, can be returned to a ‘non-place’, an area that is legally under the jurisdiction of the Brazilian State as part of its territory, but from which they cannot leave”. 

The case requests, immediately, that no compulsory removals are carried out, or deportations of migrants by the Federal Police, and that asylum requests are analyzed without hindrance.

This is the second public civil action against the discrimination of migrants on Brazilian borders. In May, the Public Defender’s Office filed a case against Inter-Ministerial Decree 255, which banned the entry by land and water of people coming from Venezuela and also suspended asylum requests.


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