Asylum Access Ecuador won a landmark victory Friday when Ecuadorâ€™s Constitutional Court struck down key provisions of a restrictive refugee law.
Since 2012, Decree 1182 has imposed serious barriers for refugees seeking safety in Ecuador, including a requirement that refugees file paperwork within 15 days of arrival â€“ often just days after receiving a death threat or seeing a family member murdered. The decree also required refugees to prove they were individually targeted for persecution, rather than fleeing generalized violence.
Most refugees were unaware of the 15-day filing requirement, and the government provided no notice at the border. Refugees who failed to file on time were denied legal status, leaving them unable to work and at risk of deportation back to sometimes life-threatening danger.
With Fridayâ€™s decision, refugees now have three months to file petitions for legal status, and 15 to 30 days to appeal a denial (up from 3 to 5 days under Decree 1182). Fridayâ€™s decision also extends protection to refugees fleeing generalized violence, reinstating a legal definition set forth in the Cartagena Declaration, a regional human rights document.
â€œWeâ€™re thrilled that the thousands of refugees arriving in Ecuador from Colombia and elsewhere now will be able to depend on greater protection under Ecuadorian law,â€ said Asylum Access Ecuador director Karina Sarmiento. â€œWe applaud the courtâ€™s courage in finding these provisions of Decree 1182 unconstitutional.â€
Asylum Access Global Policy Director Jessica Therkelsen notes: â€œEcuador has historically led Latin America on refugee rights. Decree 1182 marked an unfortunate detour from this leadership, and a contravention of Ecuadorâ€™s obligations under international law. While the new deadlines set by the Constitutional Court on Friday still do not fully accord with global best practice, the courtâ€™s decision marks a big step in the right direction and restores Ecuador to the path of leadership on this important regional human rights issue.â€
Director, Asylum Access Ecuador
(+53) 2.2.545.914; firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director, Asylum Access
(+1) 415.601.3896; email@example.com