For every refugee, the refugee status determination (RSD) process is a necessary hurdle for a new beginning. They must first prove they fulfill the refugee definition laid out in the 1951 Refugee Convention to obtain protection from deportation and assert the right to seek safety. Despite its importance, RSD practices vary across nations and RSD decisionmakers, usually a national government authority or the UN refugee agency.
Recognizing the need for improved transparency and due process in RSD procedures, Asylum Access Ecuador and US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) recently undertook a review of these practices in Latin America. Released last month, “Refugee Status Determination in Latin America: Regional Challenges and Opportunities” examines national RSD frameworks and the role of civil society in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico.
“Our goal is to foster regional dialogue on refugee protection, to create opportunities for civil society groups and governments to bring national laws and practices in line with regional refugee and human rights commitments, such as the Cartagena Declaration and the 1951 Refugee Convention,” says Karina Sarmiento, Ecuador Country Director.
With the 30th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration coming up in 2014, the report will be a key advocacy tool to engage governments, NGOs and other civil society actors in the months ahead. We’ve held several events to discuss its findings and recommendations, beginning with one with USCRI in Washington, DC on May 22.
Published June 2013.