COVID-19 Is No Excuse to Violate Refugee Rights

COVID-19 Is No Excuse to Violate Refugee Rights

Thousands of people continue to be forced to flee their countries to save their lives. The Spanish State has the obligation to guarantee international protection for those who need it

Spain will respond, in the coming weeks, to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the Universal Periodic Review, carried out in January, in which compliance with human rights in the country was evaluated. The report expresses special concern about the violations of rights suffered by migrants, refugees and applicants for international protection, remaining relevant not only in the increase in the number of recommendations on it, but in the wide range of related issues it addresses.

Some twenty recommendations focus on the improvements that Spain must adopt in the international protection and reception system to comply with its international obligations. Recommendations that, from the Platform for the UPR for the rights of refugees (PlatRefugio), were presented to the United Nations through the Report on the situation of human rights in the international protection and reception system of the Spanish State , in the They range from violations of rights at the border to those that occur in the reception system. Issues that have been aggravated as a result of the pandemic.

The health and social crisis caused by covid-19 has paralyzed the country, leaving thousands of people in a situation of great vulnerability. Given this reality, the social measures adopted by the Government have not responded to the different situations in which people who have fled their countries and seek protection in Spain find themselves.

The closure of borders, land and airport, is hindering access to the application procedure for people who need international protection. In turn, the suspension of administrative deadlines during the pandemic has accumulated a long delay in the system – already collapsed – for the processing of applications and records of international protection, which implies a long delay in the first step to access permits. residence and work and the reception system to have a home. In addition, the serious social and economic consequences especially affect people who are denied their application for international protection, remaining in an irregular administrative situation, without access to employment or any type of benefit.

For this reason, the 15 organizations that make up PlatRefugio urge the Government to act to guarantee that all people, without any discrimination, can request asylum both at the border and at embassies and consulates, ensuring compliance with the principle of non-refoulement; to streamline the administrative process by facilitating the initial application phase and increasing human and logistical resources, streamline the administrative process to comply with the deadlines established by law and favor the granting of residence and work authorization for humanitarian reasons to all those persons to those that are denied international protection, for a minimum period of one year.

In the face of this serious situation, it is essential that Spain respond by assuming the recommendations proposed by the United Nations to fulfill its obligations to protect, respect and guarantee the human rights of those fleeing from conflict, persecution and violence.

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