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Strengths and Limitations of Policies relating to Reception of Refugees and Refugee Applicants Asociación de Consultores y Asesores Internacionales ACAI.

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Presentation on theme: "Strengths and Limitations of Policies relating to Reception of Refugees and Refugee Applicants Asociación de Consultores y Asesores Internacionales ACAI."— Presentation transcript:

1 Strengths and Limitations of Policies relating to Reception of Refugees and Refugee Applicants Asociación de Consultores y Asesores Internacionales ACAI

2 Regulatory Framework: Refugees  1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol  (Act No. 6079, August 1978).  General Migration and Immigration Act, No ( March 1, 2010) a) Modifies the process for refugee status determination and establishes new structures: Unit on Refugees: General Directorate of Migration and Immigration (March 1, 2010) Committee for Visas and Refugee Status: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Security (June 2010) Administrative Court for Migration (May 2011)

3 Regulatory Framework: Refugees Migration and Immigration Act (2)... b) Positive Aspects (+) : i. A human rights approach and promoting the integration of migrants as a development factor (Articles 3, 5, & ss). ii. Incorporates a humanitarian approach / special categories: refugees, asylum applicants, victims of trafficking, stateless persons (Article 94). iii. Incorporates the classic definition of Refugee + Gender as a reason for granting international protection (Article 106). iv. Provisions on documentation and the right to employment (Article 108).

4 Regulatory Framework: Refugees  Bylaws on Refugees (November 1, 2011) Positive Aspects (+): Promotes an approach of differentiated assistance: Unaccompanied boys, girls, and adolescents, victims of trafficking, women at risk, Article Art. 10. The right to work for refugee applicants. Documents without stating the refugee status of the document holder. The possibility of renewing the document every 2 years. Eliminating the requirement of social security (CCSS) registration for the first issuance and exempting under-age persons from this requirement.

5 Profile of Refugees in Costa Rica According to UNHCR, approximately 12,000 refugees and refugee applicants are living in Costa Rica. 85% are Colombian nationals. In recent years, a higher presence of Venezuelan and Cuban nationals and extra-regional migrants (Eritrea, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc.). Since 2009, the number of Central American migrants has increased (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) due to forced displacement of victims of organized crime applicants enter the country each month (an estimated identification rate of 15% - 20%).

6 PROTECTION “A Space for Protection”: “...the degree to which a favourable environment exists enabling respect for the internationally recognized rights of refugees and meeting their needs under acceptable conditions”. Multiple advances and strengths have been identified as a result of the entry into effect of the Act and its Bylaws. However, we need to challenge some regressive practices: new challenges are arising.

7 Civil Society in Relevant Spaces National Council on Migration Article 10 of the General Migration and Immigration Act establishes the participation of 2 representatives from NGOs involved in the topic of migration, with a right to speak and vote.  National Committee to Improve Access to Justice (CONAMAJ) Participation of 2 representatives from NGOs involved in the topic of migration in the Sub-Committee for Migration and Refugees, with a right to speak and vote.

8 Reception 1… Reception 1… A higher number of Colombian nationals and extra-regional migrants are entering through the southern region of the country, avoiding border checkpoints. Challenge: To improve mechanisms to formally refer cases from the borders and airports to the Unit for Refugees without decentralizing the provisions of the statute. NO to the pre- eligibility of cases!!! To improve mechanisms to formally refer cases from the borders and airports to the Unit for Refugees without decentralizing the provisions of the statute. NO to the pre- eligibility of cases!!! Access to procedures is weakened at the Unit for Refugees in some cases, due to use of the mode of Expressly Unfounded, Abusive, or Fraudulent Application (expedited procedure). Challenge: To exercise caution in using this mode – the criteria for applying this mode need to be clarified. To exercise caution in using this mode – the criteria for applying this mode need to be clarified.

9 Reception …2 Reception …2  ESME (Team for Special Migration Situations)  ERI (Immediate Response Team for Assistance to Victims of Trafficking). The General Directorate of Migration and Immigration has made advances by incorporating a differentiated approach (victims of trafficking, unaccompanied or separated boys, girls, and adolescents, migrants in vulnerable situations) to establish their migration status through use of these inter- disciplinary bodies. It is important to replicate this mode within other Migration Directorates in the region in order to improve coordination between countries.

10 UNIT FOR REFUGEES Unit for Reception of Refugee Status Applications The establishment of this unit was a good decision since it concentrated everything relating to procedures for refugees in one unit. However, management deficiencies have been observed. Challenges: To improve the quality of information for users To improve the quality of information for users More human resources to establish eligibility (an urgent need to create relevant government positions) More human resources to establish eligibility (an urgent need to create relevant government positions) To strengthen interviewing techniques, issuance based on resolutions To strengthen interviewing techniques, issuance based on resolutions NO to staff turnover NO to staff turnover Reducing processing times Reducing processing times NO to the violation of rights through implementation of administrative guidelines (for example, some procedures are subject to previously established office hours, to the detriment of the right to petition, the right to appeal, etc.) NO to the violation of rights through implementation of administrative guidelines (for example, some procedures are subject to previously established office hours, to the detriment of the right to petition, the right to appeal, etc.)

11 COMMITTEE FOR VISAS AND REFUGEE STATUS Makes decisions regarding refugee status applications: Challenges: More regular meetings to be informed and to discuss and deliberate on the cases; More regular meetings to be informed and to discuss and deliberate on the cases; To reduce processing times – currently more than 8 months; To reduce processing times – currently more than 8 months; Decisions based more on resolutions; Decisions based more on resolutions; To reiterate the need for technical, and not political decisions. To reiterate the need for technical, and not political decisions.

12 ADMINISTRATIVE COURT FOR MIGRATION Second Instance Court of Appeal: Challenges: More support staff available. More support staff available. Abolishing the accumulation of cases pending resolution is urgent (approx. 500 cases only of refugee applications). Abolishing the accumulation of cases pending resolution is urgent (approx. 500 cases only of refugee applications). To reduce processing times ( 24 months waiting time in some cases). To reduce processing times ( 24 months waiting time in some cases). Capacity-building as an institution controlling the quality of the process of refugee status determination. Capacity-building as an institution controlling the quality of the process of refugee status determination. To systematize migration jurisprudence for refugees. To systematize migration jurisprudence for refugees. Continuous training of members at DIR. Continuous training of members at DIR.

13 Documents Temporary Documents Article 54. Bylaws on Refugees. The right to work: The Directorate could issue a work permit for applicants pending resolution for more than 3 months. The right to work: The Directorate could issue a work permit for applicants pending resolution for more than 3 months. No permit has been issued to date. Definitive Documents High Costs Bi-annual renewal of the refugee document: Bi-annual renewal of the refugee document: Article 57 of the Bylaws on Refugees. Not granted in some cases. Renewal of the refugee document subject to registration in the social security system (CCSS). Renewal of the refugee document subject to registration in the social security system (CCSS).

14 Records Collecting reliable statistical data is essential for effective programme planning. Challenges: Reports are not available from any of the institutions addressing the topic of refugees. Reports are not available from any of the institutions addressing the topic of refugees. It is important to include variables or indicators in the information – at least for age, gender, and nationality. It is important to include variables or indicators in the information – at least for age, gender, and nationality. Differentiating between refugees, residents, and refugee status applicants. Differentiating between refugees, residents, and refugee status applicants. Advancing toward analysis of qualitative information. Advancing toward analysis of qualitative information.

15 THANK YOU!


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