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Apr 8, 2022

H.R.C.B. Comments on Recent Cases of Cubans Entering Belize Seeking Asylum

The Human Rights Commission of Belize has issued a statement reminding the public that under the Refuge Act, it is not illegal for someone to enter Belize without proper documentation and to request asylum. The statement comes after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there has been an uptick in the number of Cubans attempting to use Belize as a transit point on their way north and are using the Refugee program to avoid repatriation. The H.R.C.B. says anyone seeking asylum should be directed to the Refugee Office, provided for since Belize ratified the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees in 1990. The country then incorporated the Convention into our Domestic Law as the Refugee Act, Chapter 165. The Commission says the Immigration department should not be charging these people with illegal entry. When that happens they are arrested, charged, detained, taken to court and given a fine of one thousand dollars. After a removal order they are sent to prison with the general population to await deportation. The Commission says since Belize does not have any travel arrangement with Cuba they would be imprisoned for an average of fifty days until H.R.C.B. takes out a habeas corpus action and if successful, they are released. If they choose to leave the country, the only law they are breaking is not using an established border point. The Commission says its purpose is to ensure that the rights of ALL persons, inclusive of migrants and refugees are recognized and upheld under the law.

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