Refugees International Proudly Joins Coalition on Human Mobility in the Americas, Highlighting Priorities for the OAS

Countries throughout the Americas are facing significant migration and refugee challenges. As human mobility increases, governments must commit to respond. Together with organizations from throughout the region, Refugees International has formed the Coalition on Human Mobility in the Americas, to elevate the matter before the Organization of American States 49th General Assembly. In its statement, presented on June 26, 2019, the Coalition highlighted four key priorities. 

The continent is experiencing challenging times in terms of human mobility. In light of this context, on behalf of the coalition of Human Mobility in the Americas, we present several points of priority. 

First, we believe in the need to adopt a regional, coordinated, response focused on human rights and the principle of shared responsibility among States of the region, ensuring inclusive mechanisms and active participation of civil society and other international allies.  

Second, this response must guarantee, without discrimination and in accordance with international standards, the right of each person to leave his or her country, the right to seek and be granted asylum, access to other complementary forms of international protection, as well as the facilitation of mechanisms for migratory regularization. In this regard, we call on States to reaffirm their obligations derived from international human rights law and international refugee law, including the regional definition of refugees put forth in the Cartagena Declaration of 1984. As a result, it is necessary to reaffirm and guarantee the principle of non-refoulement and the prohibition of denial of entrance at the border, and to permit easy access to mechanisms for seeking and receiving asylum. We call on States to heed the call of UNHCR regarding the possibility of recognizing the refugee status of Venezuelan and Nicaraguan people by way of group-based determinations with adequate safeguards, and to address the humanitarian situation of those seeking refuge from Central America from a human rights-based focus, guaranteeing the principle of non-refoulement.

We must acknowledge that migratory regularization has positive consequences as it allows for greater integration in the host country, and it permits the identification of persons and reduces the risks of human trafficking, labor exploitation, forced recruitment, and other harms. For this reason, States must promote and facilitate regular stay, in which the principal of legal certainty is respected, allowing access to rights with a special emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights. 

Third, States must guarantee the right of women to be free from violence, including through protection mechanisms for victims of trafficking, sexual violence, and any other form of gender-based violence, as well as through access to sexual and reproductive health services. States must develop differentiated care and protection plans for children and adolescents, LGBTI individuals, the elderly, persons with disabilities, ethnic and racial minorities, as well as any person who is in a situation of vulnerability, and guarantee their access to justice without discrimination. It is imperative that States refrain from detaining the above-mentioned vulnerable groups, especially in the case of children and adolescents and persons under international protection.

Finally, we demand that States guarantee the human rights of all persons who are at the border, in transit, or in host communities, and of persons returned to their countries of origin or internally displaced. In this regard, we call on States to refrain from militarizing borders or resorting to any measure involving the use of force, and ensuring non-criminalization nor penalty for irregular entry into the territory. Additionally, we call on States to protect family unity and abstain from separating families, to ensure the security of those who have felt it necessary to travel in caravans, and guarantee the right of individuals and groups to defend the rights of migrants. It is important to ensure access to basic human rights, including the right to identity, nationality, access to justice, education, health, and work, as well as the prevention of discrimination, violence, and xenophobia against migrant and refugee populations, as well as to adopt measures to search for missing migrants and to identify the human remains of deceased migrants.