EUROsociAL+ promotes a comprehensive response to guarantee protection for refugees and migrants in Latin America
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a worsening of the vulnerabilities suffered by migrants and refugees in Latin America, who had already left a very difficult context due to the Venezuelan and Central American migration crisis. This migration will continue, and even increase in the coming decades, especially in the post-COVID era, as indicated by the diagnosis on Access to Justice for People in a Context of Human Mobility carried out by EUROsociAL+, the cooperation programme funded by the European Union and partly managed by FIIAPP. The Public Defender’s Offices are institutions that can make a difference in this critical scenario by guaranteeing access to justice and the protection of human rights for this group.
For this reason, the Inter-American Association of Public Defenders (AIDEF), with support from EUROsociAL+ and driven by the Public Defender’s Office of the Union of Brazil and the Chilean Public Defender’s Office, has worked this last year on a proposal to create a regional model and a network offering legal assistance for migrants and refugees.
As Anna Terrón, FIIAPP’s general manager, stressed in her presentation: “people in a situation of mobility do not have to be especially poor or vulnerable, but rather they are on a journey that is at the same time a promise of empowerment and improvement”. But this movement carries many risks, such as migrants not being covered by the national justice system. “We are doing something very important, expanding this national framework to a regional one”, she added.
For AIDEF’s Secretary General, Andrés Mahnke, “there is no area in our current history that is going to have more significance than the migratory phenomenon. And complex scenarios require measures that are complex, extraordinary and provide comprehensive protection to have an effect on peoples’ rights and dignity”.
The model aims to guide the way in which public defenders in the region will comply with international human rights regulations to improve access to justice for this population group. It also includes an identification table for vulnerabilities associated with migration – such as the condition of unaccompanied minors, women victims of gender violence or trafficking, or potential asylum or refugee applicants – requiring a legal analysis of the regulations that protect them and referral protocols that must be activated to protect them.
In the opinion of Sonia González, a coordinator in the democratic governance area, “this model and this network contribute to improving the governance of regional and international migration and strengthen the link between migration and development.”