UN praises Ecuador’s new immigration law, calls it a model for the rest of the world

Jan 15, 2017 | 2 comments

By Cécile Pouilly

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), welcomes the passing by Ecuador’s National Assembly of a Human Mobility Law, which regularizes the situation of people on the move. including refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and victims of trafficking. The new law, unanimously passed by the National Assembly last week, represents a major step in the protection of refugees and asylum seekers and updates the framework for the regularization of the status of immigrants, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and victims of trafficking and human smuggling, as well as their families.

The law also establishes important principles, such as equal treatment before the law, not returning people to countries where their life or basic rights could be threatened (“refoulement”) and the non-criminalization of irregular migration.

Colombian refugee children in a classroom near Cuenca.

UNHCR in particular applauds the provision in the law which confers refugees a migratory status as residents, favouring their full integration and thus allowing them to contribute to Ecuador’s development. Particularly encouraging is that refugees will be granted a national identification card issued by the Civil Registry.

The law takes into consideration the specific situation of children in need of international protection, protects stateless persons and proposes measures to prevent statelessness.

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In a global context of increasing forced displacement, Ecuador offers an example of comprehensive protection for all people on the move, assuming not only its international responsibilities but also enacting the rights recognized in the Ecuadorian Constitution.

UNHCR would like to reaffirm its commitment to continue supporting the efforts of Ecuador to strengthen its asylum system. In this regard, we have offered our cooperation and technical assistance for the development of regulations related to the Human Mobility Law, as well as other instruments to ensure access to rights for refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons.

Ecuador is host to over 60,000 refugees, 95% of whom are Colombians. This is the largest refugee population in Latin America.

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Cécile Pouilly is a representative of the UNHCR at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

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