U.N. agency praises law in México on refugees

The United Nations refugee agency has welcomed the entry into force of a new law in México on the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers that now gives the country a legal framework that complies with international standards in this area.

The law, which was formally signed by President Felipe Calderón Wednesday, was drafted in 2009 by the Mexican Refugee Commission with technical support from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

México signed the 1951 Refugee Convention and its protocol in 2000 and has a history of protecting asylum-seekers and refugees, according to the agency.

However, until now, the country lacked a specific legal framework as previous laws did not comply with international standards, it added.

The new “Law on Refugees and Complementary Protection” incorporates Mexico’s good practices on refugees, such as permission to work, access to health services including health insurance, access to education and revalidation of studies.

It includes definitions of a refugee as per the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees as well the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees adopted in 1984. It also considers gender as grounds for persecution.

México will grant complementary protection for people not considered as refugees but whose life has been threatened or could be at risk of torture, ill treatment, or other forms of cruel inhuman treatment.

This law conforms to international law and standards, as it includes the principle of no forced returns, non-discrimination, and no penalty for irregular entry, the family unity principle, the best interests of the child, and confidentiality, among others,” said Andrej Mahecic, a high commission spokesperson.

Mexico continues receiving refugees from Latin American countries, mainly from Colombia, Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, but also extra-regional refugees from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran, Nepal, Nigeria, and Myanmar, among others.

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