Summary: Ecuador’s Constitutional Court strikes down restrictive refugee law

12th September 2014: Following advocacy by SRT grantee Asylum Access, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court has today struck down key provisions of a restrictive refugee law.

Executive Decree 1182, which became law in 2012, imposed serious barriers for refugees seeking safety in Ecuador, including a requirement that refugees file paperwork within 15 days of arrival – 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 generalised 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.

Asylum Access presented a constitutional challenge to Decree 1182 in October 2012. The Court’s recent decision is in response to this, as well as to a similar challenge presented by the University of San Francisco.

Following the Court’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 – 5 days under Decree 1182). The decision also extends protection to refugees fleeing generalised violence.

Asylum Access Global Policy Director Jessica Therkelsen said, “Ecuador has historically led Latin America on refugee rights. Decree 1182 marked an unfortunate detour from this leadership, and a contravention of Ecuador’s obligations under international law […] the court’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.”

Full press release from Asylum Access:

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