International refugee law in Mexico

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					FMR31                                                                  InTERnATIonAL REFuGEE LAW In MExICo                                                                                           71

        International refugee
        law in Mexico
        Axel García

        Significant gaps in mexico’s legal process are increasing                                                                           refugee law, whether directly
        refugee vulnerability.                                                                                                              or through civil organisations
                                                                                                                                            and universities in order to train
        In 1980 the Mexican government            In the decision stage, the assessments                                                    professionals interested in this
        created the Mexican Commission of         of the Working Group are submitted                                                        field. The planning and follow-up
        Aid to Refugees (Comisión Mexicana        to the Refugee Eligibility Committee3,                                                    of training schemes for migration
        de Ayuda a Refugiados – COMAR)            a body that issues a recommendation                                                       officers instigated by UNHCR and
        to assist refugees arriving from South    to the National Institute for Migration                                                   the Mexican government should
        and Central America. 20 years later,      which will decide on the case.
        Mexico became a signatory to the 1951     Those who have their application
        Convention and the 1967 Protocol.         rejected are entitled to appeal
                                                  for review. However, it is the
        However, the legal system that            administrative processes that are
        was introduced to provide for             reviewed, not the reasons behind
        the regularisation of refugee             the decision. Few of these cases
        status includes procedures that           have been heard in the Mexican
        are not in accordance with the            courts and the involvement of
        international law of refugees and         diverse authorities at different
        has no provision for courts dealing       points in the process has caused
        specifically with migration or refugee    confusion as to respective powers
        issues, for specialist lawyers or for     and authorities. It should be
        official translators or interpreters.     stressed again that there are
        Furthermore, there is only one            neither courts nor lawyers
        NGO – Sin Fronteras IAP1 – in the         specialised in this matter.
        country that is devoted to this issue.
                                                  Challenges and responses
                                                                                        Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova

        The process of granting refugee           There is a lack of mechanisms
        status has developed in an ad             to facilitate refugee integration
        hoc fashion, and consists of three        and, most seriously, a lack of
        stages – preliminary, analysis and        representation of unaccompanied
        decision. During the preliminary          children. We are campaigning
                                                                                        Juan de Dios Garcia Davish/

        stage, asylum seekers can claim           for the constitutional recognition
        protection by applying to the             of asylum and a fully developed
        National Institute for Migration          legal asylum procedure, as well
        within their first 15 days in Mexico.     as an increase in the government
        Government officers then interview        budget for assistance to refugees.
        those applying for refugee status,
        research the human rights situation       Mexican civil society and the
        in their country of origin, and express   academic community need to
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Popular route
        an opinion about their eligibility.       develop greater awareness of the                                                          be improved, since they have so                       for migrants
                                                  importance of respecting fundamental                                                      far had only a limited impact.                        between
        In the analysis stage, the cases          human rights, such as the right to                                                                                                              Guatemala
        submitted by these officers are           apply for refugee status. A group                                                         Axel García (axelgarciamx@yahoo.                      and Mexico.

        assessed by the Eligibility Committee     of international, governmental,                                                  was a volunteer with
        Working Group2 which decides              non-governmental and academic                                                             UNHCR Mexico and was an officer of
        whether to approve the application,       organisations is currently working                                                        COMAR in Chiapas and Mexico City.
        ask for further details about the         on the development of a ‘virtual                                                          He is a member of the International
        case or reject the application. If an     degree’ that would include subjects                                                       Association of Refugee Law Judges
        application is rejected, the reasons      such as migrants’ human rights,                                                  This article
        behind the Committee’s decision are       international refugee law and people                                                      does not necessarily reflect the views
        explained verbally to the applicant.      trafficking. This will enable human                                                       of either UNHCR or COMAR.
        He or she can then request a new          rights workers to undergo training
        interview with a different officer.       and become better qualified.                                                              2. Made up of governmental organisations, UNHCR and
        However, the case will be examined                                                                                                  an NGO with full voting rights.
        again by the same Working Group.          UNHCR should bolster its efforts                                                          3. A governmental body of high-ranking officials.
                                                                                                                                            UNHCR can be invited to work with them and have a
                                                  in Mexico to promote international                                                        say but does not have full voting rights.

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