FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ECUADOR: AMICUS BRIEF ON REFUGEE RIGHTS

June 16, 2014 – NEW YORK, NY – Ecuador should revoke a presidential decree that includes provisions that violate basic rights of refugees provided for by international law, The Refugee Representation Project of the Cardozo Human Rights and Genocide Clinic said today. Working within the clinic’s frame of prevention, protection, and rebuilding, the clinic combines different areas of expertise within human rights law. Refugee issues in Ecuador provided the clinic with an opportunity to effectively utilize this model.

On May 30, 2012, President Rafael Correa adopted Presidential Decree 1182 to regulate asylum procedures in Ecuador, the Latin American country with the largest number of registered refugees – approximately 55,000 in September 2013. On June 16, 2014, the Refugee Representation Project of the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law submitted a joint amicus with Human Rights Watch before the Constitutional Court of Ecuador, arguing that the decree violates Ecuador’s international legal obligations protecting refugees and asylum-seekers. Cardozo law students Julie Geifman (Class of 2013), Sara Levine (class of 2013), Diana Duarte (class of 2015), and Anna Maslyanskaya (Class of 2014) all contributed to the amicus.

“Decree 1182 provisions violate an asylum seeker’s due process rights and jeopardize these and other fundamental rights—including the right to seek asylum… and the principle of non-refoulement,” the brief says.

The brief argues that the presidential decree imposes short, inflexible procedural time limits that make it difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to apply for refugee status and, if necessary, appeal adverse status determinations. The decree also sets a high admissibility standard for applications to be considered for refugee status determination; allows officials broad power to exclude asylum seekers from the asylum procedure; and grants overly broad powers to authorities to revoke refugee status. Twelve Cardozo law students travelled to Esmeraldas province in the north of Ecuador and worked directly with refugees impacted by the decree over winter break in partnership with Asylum Access Ecuador.[1] One of the appeals the students brought in a particularly complicated case was overturned immediately – something that is unprecedented in the Office of the Refugee Directorate in Ecuador.

These provisions violate international standards in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, in the 1981 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, and guidelines on basic safeguards adopted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The Refugee Representation Project said.

The brief was submitted in a case brought before the Constitutional Court in 2012 by the nongovernmental organization Asylum Access Ecuador and the human rights clinic of the San Francisco de Quito University. Both institutions challenged the constitutionality of several articles of the decree. The Human Rights and Genocide Clinic will continue to engage in advocacy efforts to round out the third prong of its prevention, protection, and rebuilding framework as it awaits the decision of the Constitutional Court.

*Read the Human Rights Watch release

*Read the Amicus Brief in English 

*Read the Amicus Brief in Spanish

Read about the amicus brief in the media:

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[1] Sara Barlowe (class of 2016), Steven Bravo (class of 2014), Rikki Dascal (class of 2016), Afrodite Fountas (class of 2015), Anna Kaminsky (class of 2016), Ali O’Brien (class of 2016), Adam Rave (class of 2014), Gaudys Sanclemente (class of 2014), Johanny Santana (class of 2015), Sarah Segal (class of 2016), Anna Shwedel (class of 2015), Pamela Takefman (class of 2014)