The search for protection: A snapshot of Latin American legal protection frameworks

Published 05. Jul 2023
The Latin America region is facing several complex emergencies, including the internal and regional impacts of the crisis in Venezuela, the humanitarian consequences of the resurgent armed conflict in Colombia, persistent high levels of generalised violence across Central America and Mexico, and the adverse impacts of climate change.

These conditions combine to create some of the world’s highest forced displacement numbers, and we are currently seeing an unprecedented number of refugees and migrants on the move across the region in search of protection.

While a number of Latin American countries are rightly recognised as having progressive and humane refugee laws and policies, their application can be inconsistent and protection oftentimes difficult to access. NRC has analysed the legal protection frame works in several Latin American countries to identify key protection challenges and has identified a number which apply across the region:

  • Inconsistent and discriminatory assessment of asylum claims
  • Challenges in accessing complementary protection schemes due to irregular means of arrival
  • Lengthy Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures and overall absence of accessible legal migration pathways
  • Denial of work opportunities to those undergoing RSD
  • Limited attention on the additional protection needs of highly vulnerable groups, including children
  • USA border policies being a major driver of displacement and having adverse impact on levels of humanitarian needs

NRC hopes this briefing report can help to better inform national, regional and international response strategies and promote the need for more support to regional governments responding to dynamic migration flows and increasing numbers of displacement-affected people.

The report’s recommendations suggest steps that can be undertaken to better affect positive protection outcomes for refugees and migrants across the region.