Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Measures Adopted by Colombia to Regularize Migration and Access to Rights for Venezuelans

August 17, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) salutes the Colombian State for the promulgation of Decree No. 1288, by means of which the Special Permit to Stay (PEP) is adopted, aimed at regularizing Venezuelans in an irregular migratory situation and guaranteeing their access to rights. The IACHR also calls on the States of the region to continue to implement measures for the care of migrants and refugees from Venezuela with a human rights approach, based on shared responsibility and aimed at the protection of persons in need of international protection, the regularization of migration and the effective enjoyment of their human rights.

With the entry into force of Decree 1288 of 1 August 2018, at least 442,462 Venezuelans in an irregular situation who had been registered through the Administrative Registry of Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia (RAMV) will be allowed to regularize their status. This measure was implemented by the Colombian State with the objective of designing humanitarian aid programs for the Venezuelan population. The Decree allows Venezuelans to stay for a period of two years and have access to health, education, work and child and adolescent care services at the national, departmental and municipal levels, and they are authorized to carry out any legal activity or occupation in the country, including those carried out by virtue of an employment relationship or contract. With the previous measure, 870,000 Venezuelans would have been received by Colombia in recent years.

In this regard, the President of the IACHR, Commissioner Margarette Macaulay, stated: "We are celebrating the census and the regularization carried out by the Colombian State, since these are unprecedented measures in the region, through which the needs of Venezuelan people in Colombia were identified and finally a Decree was adopted that allows them to regularize and have access to rights. Without a doubt, an example for the region and the world.”

Additionally, the IACHR also highlights as positive that the Colombian State has been carrying out different measures to provide and guarantee the right to health of Venezuelan people. Entre marzo de 2017 y el 30 de abril de 2018 se habrían registrado al menos 34,787 personas venezolanas que han recibido distintos servicios en materia de salud en Colombia, los cuales incluyen consultas, procedimientos, urgencias, hospitalización, nacimientos y medicamentos.

The IACHR also welcomes the Colombian Constitutional Court's ruling T-210/18 of 1 June 2018, which recognizes the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for migrants in an irregular situation from Venezuela. This ruling ruled in favor of a woman and a two-year-old child of Venezuelan nationality who had been fleeing the crisis in Venezuela, particularly the shortage of medicines. In this regard, the Constitutional Court ordered the authorization of medicines and surgery that were necessary to preserve the right to health; the revision of existing legislation; the possibility for migrants to join the health system; the adoption of measures aimed at obtaining international and national cooperation resources; and any other type of measure that would allow for the most expeditious and effective progress towards the full realization of the right to health of migrants, regardless of their migratory status.

In this regard, the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights of the IACHR, Soledad García Muñoz, recalled that “the right to health is a fundamental human right for the exercise of other rights, which must be guaranteed without discrimination.” In this regard, she stressed the importance of the Colombian State implementing policies aimed at its effectiveness focused on migrants and the need to take into account compliance with the elements of availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality when implementing them.

Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, Country Rapporteur for Colombia and Venezuela, said: "The recent decision of the Constitutional Court is an example of how the judiciary can exercise conventionality and ensure that the human rights of all people, regardless of their migration status, are guaranteed. We congratulate the Colombian State because the measures adopted by the executive and judicial branches of government represent good practices for the region and the world, insofar as they demonstrate that migration policies can be based on a human rights approach and be aimed at reception and integration, instead of rejection and discrimination, as is the case in other countries.”

In turn, Paulo Abrāo, Executive Secretary of the IACHR expressed: "These measures that the Colombian State has been adopting demonstrate the leadership that a State can have in facing this type of situation and are also in line with the recommendations made by the IACHR in its Resolution on "Forced Migration of Venezuelan Persons."

The IACHR reiterates the recommendations made in its Resolution No. 2/18 on "Forced Migration of Venezuelan Persons" and calls on the States of the region to continue to implement measures aimed at guaranteeing the human rights of migrants with a focus on shared responsibility, as well as the need to adopt positive regional and international responses. In particular, the IACHR calls upon States to expand regular, safe, accessible and affordable channels for migration through the progressive expansion of visa liberalization, as well as easy-access visa facilitation regimes and/or measures, such as refugee recognition, supplementary protection, temporary protection, humanitarian visas, visitor visas, family reunification, work, residency, retirement and student visas, as well as private sponsorship programs.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 184/18