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1.4.2015

Refuge and Asylum - Refugee Policy

Throughout its history, immigration has had a significant impact on Argentina. Not all of them came to the country voluntarily. In 1985, the country started to grant refugee status. It was, however, only in 2006 that the country passed a genuine refugee law. Yet, to date, the number of asylum claims remains fairly low, at least in comparison to many European states.

July 2014: A lesbian couple from Russia married at the central civil registry of Buenos Aires. They then submitted a request to the National Government for political refugee status. (© picture alliance / Demotix)


Argentina ratified the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in 1961 and its protocol in 1967. Although the country had been receiving refugees for many decades, it was only in 2006 that the country passed a genuine refugee law (Ley General de Reconocimiento y Protección al Refugiado, Ley 26.165). The law also incorporated the Declaration of Cartagena from 1984, which amplified the UNHCR definition of a refugee.

In 2003, Argentina initiated a process to sign and implement all pending international human rights treaties. The country started to build up its refugee system and related institutions as a part of its new human rights based approach. Remembering the traumatic experience of thousands of Argentine émigrés during the rule of the last military junta (1976-1983), Argentina passed legislation to raise its protection standards and in 2005 joined other Latin American countries in their common effort to resettle refugees. Together with law 26.165, a National Refugee Council (CONARE) was instituted in 2009, involving the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Social Development and other bodies, deciding on the claims of refugee status and assuming the responsibility of protecting the refugees’ rights. Today, asylum seekers and refugees in Argentina have the right to acquire documentation testifying their status, enjoy the right to work and have access to basic services. Furthermore, refugees and asylum seekers have the same rights as any other foreigner, including the right of free movement within the country, provisions of health and education, access to the judiciary, and religious freedom. Since 1985 - the year the country started granting the status of refugee - Argentina received approximately 13,000 applications from asylum seekers from over 46 countries of origin, of which 3,200 were accepted. From 2006 to 2010, the biggest groups of asylum seekers were from Senegal (769 individuals), Colombia (665) and the Dominican Republic (547). Another group that benefitted from the new legal status are numerous Haitians who found refuge in the country after the devastating earthquake of 2010.[1] As of January 2014, UNHCR registered the presence of 3,362 refugees and 916 asylum seekers in the country, with 614 applications received in 2013.

This text is part of the country profile Argentina.
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Fußnoten

1.
Cavaleri (2012).

Thomas Maier

Thomas Maier

Thomas Maier is currently researching his PhD at the Institute of the Americas, University College London. His main focus of research is the history of labor and the welfare state in the Americas, particularly Argentina and the Southern Cone. Email: thomas.maier.12@ucl.ac.uk


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