FMR31 InTERnATIonAL REFuGEE LAW In MExICo 71
law in Mexico
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
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, com.mx) 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, www.iarlj.nl/general/. 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.