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Chile: Arbitrary and collective expulsion of migrants must stop - UN experts

GENEVA (19 May 2021) – UN experts* today called on Chile to immediately stop all plans of collective expulsion of migrants, saying they are entitled to individual assessment and to stay in the country while their situation is considered in line with international human rights norms and standards.

"Deportations of migrants cannot be carried out in a summary manner but require a case-by-case determination of their international protection needs, taking into account humanitarian considerations of their family roots, social ties and other relevant circumstances," said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales.

Since February 2021, hundreds of migrants have been expelled from Chile, in the absence of a genuine individual evaluation of each person's situation and without any possibility for them to apply for protection under international human rights and refugee law. The last of these expulsions took place on 25 April 2021, when 55 migrants from Venezuela were reportedly collectively expelled from the airport in the city of Iquique in the north of the country. Prior to their expulsion, some of these migrants were reportedly detained incommunicado and without access to legal assistance.

"The absence of an individual assessment of protection needs and risk of irreparable harm of each migrant prior to their deportation increases the risk of further human rights violations, including a violation of the principle of non-refoulement," said González Morales. This principle, enshrined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and other international human rights treaties, applies to all forms of expulsion of persons, regardless of their nationality or migration status.

"Immigration detention can be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time and must be consistent with the principles of necessity and proportionality, based on the individual circumstances of each case."

"It is also essential to comply with due process guarantees and to ensure that migrants have effective access to justice to make their claims against a deportation order, and that concerned migrants should be allowed to remain in the country while the merits of these claims are being resolved,” the UN expert said.

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the UN Committee on Migrant Workers have previously called on States to consider a temporary suspension of deportations or forced returns of migrants in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as deportations, without proper health and safety precautions, may expose migrants to dangerous conditions.

ENDS

* The experts: Mr. Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Chair), Ms. Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Mr. Mumba Malila, Ms. Miriam Estrada-Castillo and Ms. Priya Gopalan, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
For more information and media requests, please contact Yiyao Zhang (+41 22 917 85 94 / yzhang@ohchr.org) or Clara Burriel (consultant.burrielperez@ohchr.org
For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 928 9855 / laurence@ohchr.org ).
Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts

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