Peru’s Ombudsman’s office (Defensoría del Pueblo), responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, stated that to their knowledge, no one had been detained for migration reasons during the pandemic. They also noted that there is no formal immigration detention estate in the country.
After the declaration of the state of emergency in the country, Peru’s immigration authority (Superintendencia Nacional de Migraciones) suspended, for a duration of 15 days, administrative sanctions related to overstaying visas and residence permits and also for unauthorised entry onto the territory, through the Superintendency Resolution No. 100-2020. Consequently, deportations for these immigration offences were also suspended. The measure was subsequently extended by Superintendency Resolution No. 107-2020 until the end of the state of emergency. However, on 9 May 2020, Peru’s immigration authority voided the suspension through Superintendency Resolution No. 123-2020. According to the explanatory memorandum, this decision was made to allow the authority to “help mitigate actions affecting public order, national security, or the security of Peru’s citizens, by non-citizens in the country, especially during the state of emergency.”
The Ombudsman stated that there is no official information on the number of deportation orders issued by the country’s immigration authority since the lifting of the suspension of administrative sanctions. The only case that was reported through a press release was that of two Ecuadorian citizens who entered Peruvian territory irregularly through a plane that crashed in Tumbes (a border city between Ecuador and Peru), and were then expelled to Ecuador on 10 June.
While no new immigration or asylum policies have been adopted, certain measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 have affected the country’s immigration management strategies and the operation of Peru’s asylum system. As regards immigration management, Peru closed its borders on 16 March through Supreme Decree No. 044-2020-PCM, and with it, the suspension of land, aerial, and maritime transport. This measure means that, save for exceptional cases such as humanitarian flights between countries, the entry or exit of people (nationals and non-nationals) to and from the country is not permitted. In addition to the clear restrictions that this implies for the freedom of movement of migrants, the Ombudsman’s office identified that it could affect the right to seek asylum. Between 16 March and 21 June, no measures were reportedly taken by the government to guarantee access to the territory for asylum seekers. People who had entered the country shortly before the closure of borders, or who entered the country irregularly during the state of emergency, said that they did not know where to go due to the closure of national institutions.
From 22 June, the Special Commission for Refugees (Comisión Especial para los Refugiados or CEPR), the body in charge of the operation of the Peruvian asylum system, established an online platform for people to be able to conduct the following procedures: Apply for asylum; apply for the renewal of work authorisations for asylum seekers; filing appeals for reconsideration or appeal against a negative asylum decision; and applying for family reunification in cases of people with refugee status.
The CEPR has announced that they are working to move all procedures they are in charge of to online platforms as face-to-face meetings cannot be resumed at the moment. It is not yet known whether this system has had positive or negative effects upon the determination of refugee status. However, the Ombudsman is concerned that barriers to accessing the asylum system may arise due to the lack of access of asylum seekers to smartphones, laptops, computers, or the internet as well as the lack of knowledge on how to properly fill out the relevant applications.
- Superintendencia Nacional de Migraciones, “Migraciones Expulsó a Ecuatorianos que Ingresaron en Avioneta que se Estrelló en Tumbes,” 10 June 2020, https://www.migraciones.gob.pe/notadeprensa10-06-2020/
- Defensoría del Pueblo, Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, 21 July 2020.
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Peru, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/americas/peru
- Police and Armed Forces Standing in the Street, (Getty Images, “Coronavirus: 17 police officers die of Covid-19 in Peru,” BBC News, 26 April 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-52432216)