Mexico City, Mexico, November 23, 2021
Today, Judges and Magistrates from Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil were recognized with the Judgments Award 2021, for issuing criteria and judgments in the Americas that promote better protection for migrants and persons under International Protection.
The Constitutional Court of Ecuador got first place with three coinciding judgments issued on the need for non-repetition measures, such as ordering the publication of judgments, disseminating them to judges and incorporating them into their training.
Thus, sentence 2533-16-EP/21, issued on July 28, 2021, decided on the case of a person who spent six months in a shelter, deprived of his liberty, waiting for his deportation process to be carried out. The Ecuadorian Constitutional Court determined that the deprivation of liberty was illegal and arbitrary, since detention for immigration purposes is prohibited and, inter alia, the right to due process was violated.
On September 22, 2021, the Constitutional Court issued judgment 2120-19-JP/21 deciding on the case of three brothers aged 10, 16 and 21 years who were prevented from regularly entering Ecuadorian territory to reunite with their mother. The Court analyzed the obligation to determine the best interests of children and concluded that all efforts should be made so that children and adolescents retain regular immigration status, ordering the creation of a special procedure that coordinates authorities to establish special protection needs.
Finally, in its judgment 639-19-JP/20 of October 21, 2020, the Constitutional Court analyzed the case of collective "push-back" expulsions, of a group of Venezuelans that entered irregularly after being refused immigration due to the lack of an apostilled criminal record certificate. The judicial authority recognized that in no circumstances could irregular entry be considered a criminal offense and that people had been forced to return to Colombia without due process and without appearing before the immigration authority. The Court considered that “push-back” expulsions automatically entail the affectation of the principle of non-refoulement. Additionally, the rights to human mobility, due process and special protection for groups with high-priority needs were violated.
The second place in the 2021 Judgments Award was granted to the Second District Judge in Chihuahua (Mexico), who decided the amparo 570/2020. The judgment recognizes the legitimacy of civil society organizations to file for amparo proceedings for the failure to create specific protection measures for migrants as a vulnerable group in the context of the pandemic. The judge ordered the General Health Council to issue the necessary actions for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 for the benefit of the migrant population throughout the territory, as well as the development of a protocol to facilitate family reunification of unaccompanied child and adolescent migrants.
Third place went to the Second Federal Civil Court of Roraima (Brazil), which settled a Public Civil Action, filed by the Public Defender's Office of the Union of Brazil and the country’s Federal Prosecutor's Office. The Court ordered a series of measures to guarantee the rights of migrants in the context of a pandemic, such as accessing the rights to asylum and non-refoulement, even when the borders have been closed and stopping deportation, repatriation or any other measure of compulsory departure of migrants in a hyper-vulnerable situation. It also ruled to stop entry to shelters or other places where migrants live and established the payment of compensation for collective damage in favor of a non-profit entity active in humanitarian assistance activities.
Special mentions and awards to litigants
A Special Mention was granted to judgment 828/2020-I issued on April 29, 2021 by the Eighth District Court for Administrative Matters in Mexico City, which resolved the amparo filed by the Federal Institute of the Ombudsman for an omission to legislate on the harmonization and standardization of the country’s Civil Registry Offices, which led to very complicated requirements to fulfil, such as requiring Apostilles. This situation hampered the timely registration of migrant children and asylum seekers, violating their rights to identity and best interests. The Court requested that the Legislative Branch issue the law in question.
Administrative file number 59 issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religious Affairs of Costa Rica on June 8, 2021 also obtained a Special Mention. The authority declared as stateless an individual who had not been recognized as a national of any country and had no identity document that would allow him to access rights. The Ministry decided that he was a survivor of child labor as well as of violent physical, psychological, and verbal abuse by his father who abandoned him at a young age, therefore, a different approach was applied as it was difficult for him to comply with the requirements established for statelessness.
In turn, both the Public Defender's Office of the Union of Brazil and the country’s Federal Prosecutor's Office, as well as the Federal Institute of Public Defender's Office were recognized with awards for “Best Litigation Team” for the cases described above.
Recognition was also granted to the Litigation Team of the Frontera con Justicia Civil Association and the State Commission for Human Rights of Coahuila (Mexico), for an unconstitutionality action originating from the restriction of the Saltillo Migrant House water supply due to a financial debt.
In this case, there was a legislative omission in the Coahuila Water Law to regulate equal, supportive, progressive, and non-discriminatory treatment of migrants and shelters. The Superior Court of Justice of the State of Coahuila ruled on December 19, 2020 that it is a priority to guarantee the right to water for people in transit and that the companies that provide these services must also protect the rights of the population. In addition, it ordered, among other things, to legislate using these standards.
A total of fifteen civil society and international organizations, associations, foundations, and United Nations, Mexican and Latin American agencies support the delivery of the award, which was granted for the sixth consecutive year.
The award was framed within the VII Human Mobility Regional Forum. Challenges and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, a space where the obligations of States were addressed in the face of mixed flows during a health emergency, as well as addressing personal integrity and access to vaccines and other rights of people in transit.
See participating and winning Judgments since the creation of the Award in 2016 at: https://amij.org.mx/premios-sentencias/
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the Mexican Association of the Judiciary, A.C. (AMIJ); the Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants of the Inter-American Commission on Human rights (IACHR); Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP); the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office in Mexico (UNHCHR); the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the Americas Network for Refugee Legal Aid (ANRLA); the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); the Secretariat for Access to Rights and Equity (OAS); the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants; the OAS Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants; the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers; the Mexico City Human Rights Commission; the Mexican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), Supreme Court and Sin Fronteras IAP.
Sin Fronteras I.A.P.
María Fernanda Rivero Benfield
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Alberto Cabezas Talavero
Telephone: +52 55 4525 8361
International Committee of the Red Cross Regional Delegation for Mexico and Central America
Telephone: +52 55 37176427