Colombia

2,911

Immigration detainees

2018

Not Available

Detained children

2017

10,621

New asylum applications

2019

634

Refugees

2019

1,142,319

International migrants

2019

Overview

Located at the juncture between South and Central America, Colombia has become an important transit point for migrants and asylum seekers from across the Americas and elsewhere in the world. It is also a key destination for Venezuelans fleeing the turmoil in their country, hosting more than 1.3 million by 2019. During 2010-2014, a national plan was implemented to “strengthen immigration control in Colombia” and in 2013 the country opened its first temporary immigration holding facilities (salas transitorias de migración). During the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit Colombia severely, large numbers of Venezuelans who had lost their jobs became stranded in makeshift camps located in border zones when they sought to return home.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

12 February 2021

Beritza Colina, who travelled from Caracas to Bogotá, Waits with her Children to be Evacuated at a Clinic for Migrants, (Joe Parkin Daniels,
Beritza Colina, who travelled from Caracas to Bogotá, Waits with her Children to be Evacuated at a Clinic for Migrants, (Joe Parkin Daniels, "'I can build a real life': Colombia to grant legal status to Venezuelan migrants," The Guardian, 11 February 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/feb/11/i-can-build-a-real-life-colombia-to-grant-legal-status-to-venezuelan-migrants)

On 8 February 2021, Colombian President Iván Duque announced that the country would give protected status to almost one million undocumented Venezuelan migrants present in the country, a move that contrasted sharply with the government’s previous declarations opposing vaccinations for undocumented migrants. President Duque said that the protective status would last 10 years, enabling migrants to “normalise” their situations in the country. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees described the move as an “historic gesture” and “an example to the region and the rest of the whole world.” The measure will enable undocumented Venezuelan nationals to apply for temporary protected status, allowing them to work, seek permanent residency, and obtain access to health services in the country.

The new measure will now also allow Venezuelan migrants to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. In his announcement on 8 February, Duque urged the international community to help fund vaccination efforts for migrants. Colombia has been hard-hit by the pandemic. As of February 2021, it had recorded over 2.1 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 57,000 related deaths related. (For more information about Colombia, see the GDP’s December 2020 Colombia country report: “Immigration Detention in Colombia: At the Crossroads of the Americas,” https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/americas/colombia).


12 January 2021

Venezuelan Nationals Carrying an Unconscious Woman as They Try to Enter Colombia, (Schneyder Mendoza, AFP,
Venezuelan Nationals Carrying an Unconscious Woman as They Try to Enter Colombia, (Schneyder Mendoza, AFP, "Alarm at Colombia Plan to Exclude Migrants from Coronavirus Vaccine," The Guardian, 22 December 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/dec/22/colombia-coronavirus-vaccine-migrants-venezuela-ivan-duque)

Colombia is currently under a state of emergency, which has been extended until 28 February 2021. Decree 1550 implementing the state of emergency includes additional restrictions like the closure of land and river borders with Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil. Colombia’s immigration authority, Migración Colombia, reported in late 2020 that despite the emergency measures there has been an increase in the number of people entering Colombia from Venezuela. According to Migración Colombia’s latest published data, there are approximately 1.7 million Venezuelan citizens in the country.

In late December, President Ivan Duque announced the government’s intention not to vaccinate undocumented non-nationals--including hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees--within the country’s borders. According to Duque’s comments in a local radio interview on 21 December, only Venezuelans who have dual nationality or formal migratory status will have access to the vaccine when it is eventually rolled out. Justifying this decision in terms of prioritising Colombian nationals, Duque stated, “We would have calls to stampede the border as everyone crosses asking for a vaccine.”

Duque’s announcement prompted criticism from humanitarian agencies and rights groups. In a statement condemning the government’s intended policy, Mercy Corps said, “Vaccines will only curb the pandemic if everyone can get them. Leaving Venezuelans out puts them and their Colombian neighbours at risk. Venezuelans, especially those who are undocumented, are among the most vulnerable and hardest hit by the economic effects of the pandemic. Many have lost their only source of income and been forced to live in crowded shelters or on the streets, making them even more susceptible to catching and spreading the virus. People who are most at-risk and vulnerable should be prioritized regardless of nationality or immigration status.”

In the Global Detention Project’s latest report about Colombia, published in December 2020, we detail how Colombia has become an important transit point for migrants and asylum seekers from across the Americas as well as from other parts of the world. For the past several years, it has also been a key destination for Venezuelans fleeing the turmoil in their country. During 2010-2014, a national plan was implemented to “strengthen immigration control in Colombia” and in 2013 the country opened its first temporary immigration holding facilities (“salas transitorias de migración”). During the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit Colombia severely, large numbers of Venezuelans who had lost their jobs became stranded in makeshift camps located in border zones when they sought to return home.

For more information, visit the GDP’s Colombia page at:
https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/americas/colombia


13 July 2020

Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia Trying to Reach the Border to Return to their Country, (Stefano Pozzebon, “Venezuelan Migrants Fleeing Covid-19 Get Stuck at Border,” CNN, accessed on 14 July 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/07/13/venezuela-migrants-covid19-stuck-border-colombia-pozzebon-pkg-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/)
Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia Trying to Reach the Border to Return to their Country, (Stefano Pozzebon, “Venezuelan Migrants Fleeing Covid-19 Get Stuck at Border,” CNN, accessed on 14 July 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/07/13/venezuela-migrants-covid19-stuck-border-colombia-pozzebon-pkg-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/)

According to the Colombian Ministry of Health, as of 23 June, Colombia had 73,572 cases of Covid-19 and 2,404 deaths related to the disease. As reported by CNN, Venezuelan migrant workers, who left the country when its economy collapsed, are now returning as Covid-19 cases surge across Latin America. The Colombia-Venezuela border crossing has been closed since March and migrants wishing to return to Venezuela find themselves stranded at the border in Cucuta.

According to UNHCR, on 5 June Colombia’s migration authority issued Resolution No. 1265, which outlines the protocol for the return of Venezuelans and details coordination measures between local authorities, Colombia’s immigration authority (Migracion Colombia), local health institutions, and the police. Under this resolution, Venezuelans who decide to return are at risk of losing their refugee status or having their application for asylum rejected.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has called its own citizens “biological weapons” and accused Colombia and other governments of infecting them with Covid-19 to spread the pandemic across Venezuela. Colombia has categorically rejected these accusations, calling them deplorable.

As reported by UNHCR, quotas have been established for the maximum number of returnees that can be received in Venezuela via the humanitarian corridor that is open three days a week (100 people per return day via the Arauca border crossing and 300 per return day in Cucuta). Everyone else must wait in makeshift migrant camps, where many have been waiting for weeks in worsening conditions. Social distancing is non-existent in the Cucuta camp, which increases the risk of contagion and spread of Covid-19. In addition, without toilets or adequate medicines, and with exposed raw sewage and waste, the camps expose children and families to other serious illnesses.

Al Jazeera reported in June that at least 500 Venezuelan migrants who had been left jobless and homeless during the pandemic, built a makeshift camp in the outskirts of Bogota. Most are trying to return home, but the Colombian authorities were preventing them from continuing their trip after the Venezuelan government began limiting the number of returnees, causing bottlenecks along the route. This camp has no running water or electricity and people survive from the charity of others that bring them food and supplies.

UNHCR and its partners are concerned over the increased risks of forced recruitment of adolescents by armed groups. As a result of quarantine measures, families face economic hardship and are therefore more vulnerable to pressure from armed groups. The National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences reported that nine Venezuelan women were killed during the period of mandatory isolation that began on 20 March, representing a 12% increase from the same period in 2019. Also, the Children’s Delegate of the Ombudsperson’s Office identified 54 unaccompanied and separated Venezuelan children in North Santander, 129 in Arauca and 107 in Guajira during the Covid-19 crisis. From 16 March to 12 June, UNHCR registered 2,206 cases of children at risk and 90 cases of unaccompanied and separated children.


02 April 2020

A Wall of the Modelo Prison in Bogota, Colombia, (https://colombiareports.com/colombia-to-release-more-than-10000-inmates-from-prison-over-coronavirus-fears/)
A Wall of the Modelo Prison in Bogota, Colombia, (https://colombiareports.com/colombia-to-release-more-than-10000-inmates-from-prison-over-coronavirus-fears/)

Migrants and refugees in Colombia find themselves in a particularly vulnerable situation due to the Covid-19 crisis and the measures taken by the government, including confinement and border closures. Many have lost their homes and been left on the street as they are not able to afford rent. UNHCR has urged the country to adopt measures to support all vulnerable populations during the pandemic. However, of the 33 emergency decrees issued by the government to date as a consequence of the pandemic, none of them mention support for migrants. The GDP has been unable to find any reports indicating the measures taken to assist migrants and asylum seekers in detention.

It is likely that people arrested for immigraiton reasons are held in prisons or police stations. Colombia’s President Ivan Duque announced the suspension of visits to all of the country’s 132 prisons until adequate measures are put in place to ensure that Covid-19 does not spread within prisons. On 25 March 2020, the “National Carceral Movement” denounced the use of firearms and tear gas by the prison administration in response to a peaceful protest. The group of prisoners reports that 39 detainees were injured. The Ministry of Justice subsequently decided that 10,850 particularly vulnerable prisoners would be released and placed under “transitory house arrest” to mitigate the risk of infection. Prisoners that will be allowed to leave are those older than 60, nursing mothers, severely ill inmates and prisoners with sentences lower than five years who have served the obligatory three-firth of their sentence, but were never released.


Last updated: December 2020

Colombia Immigration Detention Profile

 

 

KEY FINDINGS

  • In 2013, Colombia opened its first migration-related detention centres (temporary immigration holding facilities, salas transitorias de migración); as of 2018, there 11 such facilities reportedly in operation.
  • A foreigner subject to deportation or expulsion may be held in preventive detention for up to 36 hours.
  • Civil society groups say that Colombia employs immigration detention measures “frequently," though it is challenging to establish the actual frequency because of the lack of official data on immigration procedures. In 2018, the country reported that it had confined 2,911 non-nationals in its detention centres.
  • As of mid-2019, Colombia hosted an estimated 1.3 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees. However, after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, large numbers sought to return home but became stranded in makeshift border camps after borders were closed.
  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called his own citizens “biological weapons” and accused Colombia and other governments of infecting returning migrants with COVID-19 to spread the pandemic across Venezuela.

 

1.     INTRODUCTION

Historically, Colombia has been a country of emigration as interminable conflict, poor infrastructure, and persistent economic turmoil drove many to leave the country and dissuaded foreigners from settling there. As recently as 2005, the country’s census revealed that non-citizens comprised a meagre 0.26 of the population.[1] 

More recently however, the country’s geographic location as the only land gateway between South and Central America has resulted in it becoming a critical transit point for many migrants and asylum seekers wishing to reach North America. Colombia has also received people from Africa and Asia who have flown to countries with lax visa policies such as Ecuador, before travelling overland through Colombia.[2] And since 2004, the country has become a destination for large numbers of Venezuelan migrants and refugees. According to UNHCR, approximately 1.3 million Venezuelans were reported to be in the country in mid-2019.[3]

The country’s evolving migratory profile was acknowledged by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in July 2019, when he introduced a new immigration policy (Proyecto de ley por medio del cual se establece la política migratoria del Estado Colombiano), saying: “Colombia remains primarily a migrant issuing country. However, it is also a recipient and transit place for thousands of foreign citizens, including Venezuelan citizens who in recent years have entered Colombia in search of better economic conditions, assistance and protection from the political and social situation in their country.”[4]

Against this backdrop, authorities implemented a national development plan (Prosperidad para todos) during 2010-2014, which was intended to “strengthen immigration control in Colombia through the creation of a specialised agency with technological, financial and budgetary tools for better management, coverage and results.”[5] Established in 2011, the new migration agency—the Unidad Administrativa Especial Migración Colombia” (“Migración Colombia”) (Colombian Migration Unit, CMU)—took over immigration control functions previously overseen by the Administrative Department of Security (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, DAS), whose responsibilities also included espionage and intelligence.

Shortly after the CMU’s establishment, Colombian media reported in 2013 that new temporary immigration holding facilities (salas transitorias de migración, STMs) would be established in the country. Reports indicated that a total of seven STMs would be opened: one each in Guajira, Cartagena, Medellín, Bogotá, Cúcuta, and two in Pasto. These facilities, it was reported, would detain foreigners for up to 36 hours while authorities decide on deportation or other immigration measures.[6] In 2019, the country reported that it was operating 11 STMs. [7]

To-date, the GDP has been unable to independently verify the location and status of these facilities. However, reports have highlighted the detention of migrants in the country, with some observers claiming that immigration detention measures are used “frequently.”[8] In 2015 there were several cases of Cuban migrants being detained,[9] and in March 2016, following the apprehension of 17 undocumented migrants, the CMU’s director announced that “there is no way the Cubans can stay in Colombia. … What we are going to do is to receive them and keep them in temporary migrant holding facilities for 36 hours, where accommodation and food will be provided.”[10] More recently, in 2019, Colombia reported to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) that its STMs had confined 2,911 foreign nationals in 2018.[11]

In 2020, the Colombian government took steps to regularise the status of migrants. One of the first measures adopted was the creation of a new Special Permanence Permit (Permiso Especial de Permanencia, PEP), which would benefit an estimated 200,000 Venezuelans. Another measure adopted was the creation of the “Special Permanence Permission for the Promotion of Formalisation” (Permiso Especial de Permanencia para el Fomento de la Formalización), a work permit that would be granted to Venezuelan citizens in Colombia with a job offer.[12]

Nevertheless, during the COVID-19 pandemic, large numbers of Venezuelan migrant workers—many of whom lost their sources of employment amidst the economic downturn—sought to return to their country of origin. But with borders closed, and Venezuela permitting only 400 people to return three days a week (according to UNHCR, 100 per day via the Arauca border crossing, and 300 per day in Cucuta),[13] large groups were left stuck in makeshift migrant camps in border areas. There were reports of migrants, including children, being exposed to severe overcrowding, inadequate sanitation and medical provision, and raw sewage and waste.[14] Venezuelan President Nicolas further aggravated the situation when he wildly claimed that Venezuelans returning from abroad were being used as “biological weapons,” deliberately infected by foreign governments in an effort to spread COVID-19 across Venezuela. Colombia categorically rejected these accusations, calling them deplorable.[15]

 

2.     LAWS, POLICIES, PRACTICES

2.1 Key norms. Key legal norms relating to immigration detention are provided in the following pieces of legislation: Decree 4.000 of 2004, by which provisions on the issuance of visas, control of foreigners and other migration related matters are issued (Decreto 4.000 de 2004, por el cual se dictan disposiciones sobre la expedición de visas, control de extranjeros y se dictan otras disposiciones en materia de migración); Decree 834 of 2013, by which provisions relating to immigration matters of the Republic of Colombia are established (Decreto 834 de 2004, por el cual se establecen disposiciones en materia migratoria de la Republica de Colombia), which derogated and replaced several provisions of Decree 4.000 of 2004; and Decree 1.067 of 2015, through which the Single Regulatory Decree of the External Relations Sector is issued (Decreto 1067 de 2015, por medio del cual se expide el Decreto Reglamentario Único del Sector de Relaciones Exteriores).

The Colombian Constitution of 1991 (“Constitución Política de Colombia 1991”) provides several “fundamental rights” for individuals (Articles 11-41). Article 28 provides the right to liberty and protection against arbitrary detention and also guarantees that those individuals detained preventively will be brought before a competent judge within thirty-six hours. Yet, while the fundamental rights provided in the Constitution apply to “all individuals,” Article 24, guaranteeing freedom of movement throughout the Colombian territory, explicitly mentions “any Colombian citizen.”

2.2 Covid-19 response. The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated many of the vulnerabilities experienced by migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers around the world. In Colombia, large numbers of Venezuelan migrants—facing lock-down restrictions and limited employment opportunities—sought to return to Venezuela. According to the Colombian Migration Unit (CMU), more than 90,000 Venezuelans had voluntarily returned as of 21 July 2020.[16]

However, in comments immediately rebutted by Colombia, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused Colombian authorities of facilitating Venezuelans’ return in order to “contaminate” his country with the virus. Venezuela introduced caps on the numbers permitted to cross the border each week: on three days a week, 100 were permitted to enter via the Arauca border crossing, and 300 per day via Cucuta.[17] As such, many returnees faced no other option but to stay in makeshift border camps—some of which were reported to subject migrants to overcrowding, inadequate sanitation and medical provision, and exposure to raw sewage and waste.[18]

Like several other countries in the Americas, Colombia received hundreds of deportees from the United States during the pandemic. Between 1 January and 2 May, 604 people were reportedly deported to the country,[19] despite the dangers that such removals pose during the pandemic. Indeed, following the return of 64 people on a 30 March flight from Louisiana, at least 24 returnees later tested positive for COVID-19.[20]

According to the Children’s Delegate of the Ombudsperson’s Office, 54 unaccompanied and separated Venezuelan children in North Santander, 129 in Arauca, and 107 in Guajira were identified during the COVID-19 crisis. Between 16 March and 12 June, UNHCR registered 2,206 cases of children at risk and 90 cases of unaccompanied and separated children.[21] 

2.3 Grounds for detention. Decree 4.000 and Decree 1.067 detail several grounds justifying the detention of non-nationals. According to Article 109 of Decree 4.000 and Article 2.2.1.13.3.2. of Decree 1.067, a foreigner may be detained upon the following grounds:

  • To verify their identity
  • To verify their immigration status
  • When an administrative procedure is initiated against a foreigner and their appearance is necessary
  • To effect removal

Article 28 of Decree 834 and Article 2.2.1.11.3.1. of Decree 1.067 provide that the relevant immigration authority may prevent a foreigner’s entry into Colombian territory and process their immediate return to their country of origin or a third country, if any of several grounds (described in Article 29 of Decree 834 and Article 2.2.1.11.3.2. of Decree 1.067) are met, including:

  • Failure to present a visa when required
  • If the individual has previously been deported from Colombia 
  • If the individual has a criminal record for drugs, drug trafficking or other related crimes.

2.4 Criminalisation. Article 22 on civil and political rights of the Colombian Penal Code of 2000 establishes that any person who has entered the territory legally has the right to movement and residence. While the code does not for provide criminal sanctions if a person if found to be in Colombian territory irregularly, it does state that those in such a situation may be subject to administrative sanctions such as fines, or at worst, deportation or expulsion measures. In its response to a questionnaire submitted to the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers’ Draft General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Rights to Liberty and Freedom from Arbitrary Detention, Colombia indicated that immigration infractions do not constitute crimes.[22]

According to Article 2.2.1.13.1.2 of Decree 1.067 of 2015 and Article 101 of Decree 4.000 of 2004, a non-national may be deported if the person if found to be in an irregular immigration situation, “as long as there are no special circumstances that justify a financial sanction.” Thus, people found in an irregular situation will be deported, save where specific circumstances justify commuting the deportation measure by a fine. To test for special circumstances, Article 16 of Resolution 2357 of 2020 (Resolución 2357 de 2020, 29 de Septiembre 2020) requires the immigration authority to consider whether the person in an irregular situation: a) has a proven family unit; b) has a special medical situation; or c) is employed, brings foreign investment, or is part of an academic programme at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

People who are found to have committed trafficking offences can, however, face criminal sanctions. Specifically, they face prison sentences of 13 to 23 years, and fines ranging from 800 to 1500 “monthly minimum wages” (Article 3 of Law 985 of 2005,[23] which amended Article 188A of Law 599 of 2000[24]).

2.5 Asylum seekers. The right to asylum is enshrined in the Colombian Constitution under Article 36.

According to Article 2 of Decree 2840 of 2013 by which the Procedure for the Recognition of Refugee Status is established (Decreto 2840 de 2013 por el cual se establece el Procedimiento para el Reconocimiento de la Condición de Refugiado, se dictan normas sobre la Comisión Asesora para la Determinación de la Condición de Refugiado y otras disposiciones), the Advisory Commission for the Determination of Refugee Status (Comisión Asesora para la Determinación de la Condición de Refugiado) is responsible for receiving and processing asylum applications, and for making a recommendation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Article 9 of Decree 2840 further provides that when the Advisory Commission considers an asylum application, it will also request that the Colombian Migration Unit (CMU) issue a permit (salvoconducto) which grants the asylum seeker leave to remain for three months, though it may limit the person to staying a specific region of the country. This may be extended a further three months if necessary. The issuance of this document may protect the non-national from arbitrary detention and/or removal.[25]

2.6 Children. According to Colombian authorities, migrant children may not be detained on account of their migration status.[26] However, civil society groups have claimed that unaccompanied minors are often placed in conditions that restrict or deprive them of freedom.[27]

Migration guidelines provide that unaccompanied migrant children should be referred to the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar) (ICBF), which places the child in a temporary home while their immigration situation is resolved.[28] The same process takes place in cases where minors request asylum as described under Article 2.2.3.1.6.5. of Decree 1067 of 2015. In its reply to the list of issues raised by the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW) in 2019, Colombia explained that “children and adolescents may not be held in temporary migrant holding facilities. When an incident involving a child or adolescent occurs, the immigration authority always communicates with the Police for Children and Adolescents and/or the Colombian Family Welfare Institute so that these bodies may take charge of the minor until his or her migration status has been settled.”[29]

According to provisions in a handbook on immigration control as regards minors, issued by the Colombian Migration Unit (CMU) (adopted by decision No. 0760 of 2016), unaccompanied minors who enter the country without necessary documentation must be provided with an SC-2 permanency permit (“salvoconducto”), inform the ICBF of the case, and transfer the minor to the Police for Children and Adolescents (Section 5.10). The CMU has also implemented procedures for handing over children or adolescents to other authorities in cases where, during migration formalities, the rights of a minor are found to be at risk and the intervention of a competent authority is required for the restoration of his or her rights.[30]

In August 2019, as part of the country’s “Primero la Niñez” (Childhood First) Campaign, Colombia granted nationality to Venezuelan children born inside the country since 19 August 2015—helping to prevent a statelessness crisis, and ensuring easier access to health and education. According to Colombia, more than 36,000 children have benefitted from this scheme.[31] 

2.7 Other vulnerable groups. According to Article 2.2.3.1.1.1.(c) of Decree 1067 of 2015, “where there are well-founded reasons to believe that a person would be in danger of being subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in case of expulsion, return or extradition to his or her country of origin,” the person will fall under the definition of “refugee”—and as a consequence will be granted protection.

Decree 1036 of 2016 (Decreto 1036 de 2016, por el cual se adiciona un capítulo al Libro 2, Parte 2, Titulo 3 del Decreto No. 1066 de 2015, Decreto Único Reglamentario del Sector Interior, con el fin de adoptar la Estrategia Nacional para la Lucha Contra la Trata de Personas, 2016-2018) established the Observatory for the Offence of Trafficking (Observatorio del Delito de la Trata de Personas) which, inter alia, functions as a mechanism for investigation, collection, and analysis of information related to human trafficking.[32]

2.7 Length of detention. According to Article 109 of Decree 4.000 of 2004 and Article 2.2.1.13.3.2 of Decree 1067, a foreigner subject to deportation or expulsion may be held in preventive detention for up 36 hours and/or be subject to monitoring or custody by the immigration authorities until the measure is executed. The law appears to imply that detention could be potentially unlimited in duration. (“El extranjero que sea objeto de un trámite de deportación o expulsión, podrá ser retenido preventivamente hasta por treinta y seis (36) horas y/o sometido a vigilancia o custodia por las autoridades migratorias hasta que la medida se haga efectiva”).

In addition to this, Article 28 of Decree 834 of 2013 and Article 2.2.1.11.3.1. of Decree 1067 of 2015 provide that when the immigration authority refuses the entry of a non-citizen for reasons cited in Articles 29 of Decree 834 and 2.2.1.11.3.2. of Decree 1067 of 2015 (see 2.3 Grounds for detention), the foreigner will be “immediately” returned to the country they are arriving from, their country of origin, or a third country that is willing to admit them. The same provisions state that “no appeals against this decision are possible” and that the immigration authority will liaise with a transport company to ensure that the non-citizen is immediately removed.

2.8 Procedural standards. Colombia says that non-nationals deprived of their liberty are entitled to free legal advice, interpretation services, and access to consular assistance.[33] Colombia’s Constitution also provides various relevant guarantees, such as the right to liberty and protection from arbitrary detention (Article 28). It also provides for the right to due process (Article 29) and the right for individuals who believe they are detained illegally to invoke habeas corpus before a legal authority (Article 30). Article 13 explicitly provides for equality before the law, and prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex, race, nationality or family origin, language, religion, and political or philosophical opinion; and Article 44 provides, inter alia, a child’s right to education, health, and physical integrity.

Some people who are issued expulsion orders may lodge administrative appeals against such measures (Article 2.2.1.13.2.1. of Decree 1067; Code of Administrative Litigation Procedures (Act No.1437 of 2011)). Appeals have a suspensive effect—in that once they are presented, non-citizens are provided with a permit (“salvoconducto”) allowing them to remain in the country until their administrative situation is resolved.[34] However, given that Colombia orders some expulsions and returns “immediately,” several observers have noted that “people may often not have enough time or the necessary means to defend themselves against removal from the country.”[35] Similarly, people who are refused entry may not lodge appeals (Article 28 of Decree 834 and Article 2.2.1.11.3.1. of Decree 1067).

Following its review of Colombia’s second periodic report, the Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) expressed concern that there was a lack of information on the actual exercise of the right to appeal expulsion orders.[36] The committee also highlighted the fact that when an individual is issued with an expulsion order based on national security considerations, administrative appeals will not be accepted (Article 2.2.1.13.2.2. of Decree 1067); and that either the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Colombian Migration Unit (CMU) can “cancel a visa at any time, in writing, against which no appeal is possible” (Article 16 of Decree 834 and Article 2.2.1.11.1.7. of Decree 1067). The CMW thus encouraged Colombia to ensure that all people “have the right to submit the reasons why they should not be deported or expelled.”[37]

2.9 Non-custodial measures (“alternatives to detention”). Colombian law does not specifically mention a requirement to assess “alternatives to detention” or non-custodial measures before issuing a detention order. However non-custodial measures appear to be applied in specific situations. People who have appealed deportation or expulsion orders are not required to remain confined in temporary migrant holding facilities (STMs). Instead, they are permitted to leave, but are required to appear when requested by the Colombian Migration Unit (CMU) or any other relevant authority.[38]

2.10 Detaining authorities and institutions. The Colombian Migration Unit (CMU) is responsible for surveillance and monitoring of immigration control, as well as verifying the identity of non-citizens and their immigration status in the country (Article 4(2)-(3) Decree 4062 of 2011). It oversees: 1) centres for facilitating migration services, which are responsible for processing visas, permits, and other documentation related to immigration; 2) areas of administrative control, whose functions are focused on immigration control and verification procedures 3) immigration checkpoints; and 4) temporary migrant holding facilities (salas transitorias de migración - STMs).[39] In 2013, it was reported that the CMU operated 35 immigration checkpoints and 27 centres for facilitating migration services.[40]

2.11 Domestic monitoring. Colombia has an Ombudsperson (Defensoría del Pueblo) who is presumably empowered to monitor immigration detention activities. However, efforts by the Global Detention Project (GDP) to correspond with this office to investigate immigration detention policies have not produced a substantive result. On 3 October 2020, the GDP wrote to the Ombudsperson requesting information regarding the domestic monitoring of immigration detention practices. The Ombudsman transferred our request to the CMU on 7 October and a second time on 27 October. However, it reported to the GDP on 11 November 2020 that it had not received a response from the CMU within the necessary legislative timeframe. 

2.12 International monitoring. Colombia has not signed or ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), and as such, the country does not receive visits from the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT). However, some human rights bodies have addressed comments and recommendations regarding Colombia’s immigration and asylum practices. In 2020, the UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) recognised that the State party had taken steps to protect children and adolescents in the context of migration, but remained concerned about the vulnerability of their situation. It thus urged Colombia to ensure that all procedures involving unaccompanied migrant children take into account the best interests of the child, “with a view to adopting short- and long-term solutions, such as family reunification or resettlement in a third country.”[41] Previously in 2013, the CMW recommended “that the State party take the necessary steps to ensure that migration status checks are conducted in a way that does not violate the rights of the persons concerned” and invited “the State party to make sure that conditions in temporary migrant holding centres meet international standards.”[42]

Other committees have also noted concerns. In 2015 for example, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) highlighted several instances of refoulement in 2014, and recommended that authorities “rescind or amend provisions that bar people in transit at border checkpoints from submitting asylum applications to migration authorities.”[43]

 

3.     DETENTION INFRASTRUCTURE

3.1 Summary. As of 2019, Colombia operated 11 temporary immigration holding facilities (salas transitorias de migración, STMs), which in 2018 confined 2,911 foreign nationals.[44] There have also been reports of people being detained for immigration purposes in police stations and airports, although the Global Detention Project has been unable to obtain further information on the use of these facilities.

STM’s are defined as “physical spaces equipped with the necessary conditions for the temporary preventive retention of foreigners to whom the measure of inadmissibility, deportation or expulsion is applied.”[45] The Colombian government has explained that these facilities are intended to accommodate migrants during verification and immigration control procedures.[46] The facilities reportedly provide medical diagnostic services, legal assistance, consular representation, space for family visits, interpretation services (where possible), and access to sanitary facilities and food.[47]

According to the Colombian Migration Unit (CMU), the STMs have dedicated medical area (Área de diagnóstico médico y psicológico) where detainees receive individual physical and mental health assessments.[48] An administrative and immigration verification area (Área administrativa y de verificación migratoria) is utilised for entry processing of foreign or national citizens subject to preventive detention, as well as for fingerprinting and identity verification. Detainees may also use the telephone, fax, or computer (email) in this area in order to contact a lawyer, consular representatives, or their family, and are to have access to interpreters when speaking with immigration officers and other people. Four people can be received and processed in this area at once.[49]

STMs also have waiting areas (Áreas de espera), where detainees are to wait while their situation is resolved. A television, newspapers, magazines, and books are available, and detainees can speak with their lawyers. A maximum of ten people may be placed in such an area at once.[50] Elsewhere, a designated space for dining (Área de comedor) is available for up to ten detainees to use at one time.[51] Finally, sleeping quarters are provided for people held for more than 12 hours. These are split into men’s quarters and women’s quarters, and gender-segregated bathrooms with showers are also available. An additional bathroom for children and disabled people is also provided.[52]

According to a 2013 report published by the Colombian Migration Unit (CMU), the legal framework under which STM’s have been established encompasses Articles 4(2)-(4); Article 10(4) and (6); Article 16(2), (5) and (6); Article 18(2); Article 23(2), (5), (7) and (10) and Article 27 of Decree 4062 of 2011 and mostly concern the CMU’s functions to control borders and verify the immigration status of non-citizens.[53]

3.2 List of detention facilities. The Global Detention Project has been unable to obtain a definitive list of the facilities used in Colombia. According to a report published in 2013, seven STM’s were being built: one each in Guajira, Cartagena, Medellín, Bogotá, Cúcuta, and two in Pasto. [54]

 


[1] B.E.S. Mojica, “In Transit: Migration Policy in Colombia,” in A Liberal Tide? Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy in Latin America , School of Advanced Study, University of London, 2015, https://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/6155/1/08.%20ALT_Ch4_Sanchez%20Mojica.pdf

[2] D. Carvajal, “As Colombia Emerges from Decades of War, Migration Challenges Mount,” Migration Policy Institute, 13 April 2017, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/colombia-emerges-decades-war-migration-challenges-mount

[3] UNHCR, “Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela Top 4Mmillion: UNHCR and IOM,” 7 June 2019,  https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2019/6/5cfa2a4a4/refugees-migrants-venezuela-top-4-million-unhcr-iom.html

[4] La Opinión, “Presentan el proyecto de política migratoria,” 25 July 2019, https://www.laopinion.com.co/colombia/presentan-el-proyecto-de-politica-migratoria-181151#OP

[5] República de Colombia, “Bases del Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2010-2014, Prosperidad para Todos: Capitulo V, Consolidación de la paz,Departamento Nacional de Planeación, 13 April 2011,

[6] Redacción Justicia, “En un ano, red movió a mil migrantes ilegales,El Tiempo, 17 August 2013, https://www.eltiempo.com/archivo/documento/CMS-13000551

[7] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Replies of Colombia to the List of Issues, CMW/C/COL/Q/3/Add.1,” 17 June 2019, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=7&DocTypeID=22

[8] E. C. Marquez, G. Bonnici, and V. Martinez, “Que esperamos del futuro? Detención migratoria y alternativas a la detención en las Américas,International Detention Coalition, 2017, https://idcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/INFORME-REGIONAL-AMERICAS-2017.pdf

[9] Redacción Nacional, “Detienen a 10 cubanos en aeropuerto de Cali,” El Espectador, 23 April 2015, https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/nacional/detienen-10-cubanos-aeropuerto-de-cali-articulo-556684; L. Sanchez, “Inmigrantes ilegales detenidos en el mar Caribe,Noticias Colombia, 28 April 2015, http://co.noticias.com/actualidad/inmigrantes-ilegales-detenidos-en-mar-caribe.html

[10] Frontera, “Autoridades endurecen controles en la frontera,La Opinion, 17 March 2016, https://www.laopinion.com.co/frontera/autoridades-endurecen-controles-en-la-frontera-108614#OP

[11] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Replies of Colombia to the List of Issues, CMW/C/COL/Q/3/Add.1,” 17 June 2019, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=7&DocTypeID=22

[12] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, “Gobierno Nacional lanza paquete de medidas para regularización de ciudadanos Venezolanos,” 29 January 2020, https://www.migracioncolombia.gov.co/noticias/246-enero-2020/gobierno-nacional-lanza-paquete-de-medidas-para-regularizacion-de-ciudadanos-venezolanos

[13] UNHCR, “Donor Update on UNHCR Covid-19 Response in Colombia (3-24 June 2020), 24 June 2020, https://reliefweb.int/report/colombia/donor-update-unhcr-covid-19-response-colombia-8-3-24-june-2020

[14] S. Pozzebon, “Venezuelan Migrants Fleeing Covid-19 Get Stuck at Border,” CNN, accessed on 14 July 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/07/13/venezuela-migrants-covid19-stuck-border-colombia-pozzebon-pkg-vpx.cnn

[15] S. Pozzebon, “Venezuelan Migrants Fleeing Covid-19 Get Stuck at Border,” CNN, accessed on 14 July 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/07/13/venezuela-migrants-covid19-stuck-border-colombia-pozzebon-pkg-vpx.cnn

[16] France24, “Más de 90.000 venezolanos han retornado a Venezuela desde Colombia durante la pandemia,” 22 July 2020, https://www.france24.com/es/20200721-venezuela-migrantes-colombia-retorno-coronavirus

[17] UNHCR, “Donor Update on UNHCR Covid-19 Response in Colombia (3-24 June 2020), 24 June 2020, https://reliefweb.int/report/colombia/donor-update-unhcr-covid-19-response-colombia-8-3-24-june-2020

[18] S. Pozzebon, “Venezuelan Migrants Fleeing Covid-19 Get Stuck at Border,” CNN, accessed on 14 July 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/07/13/venezuela-migrants-covid19-stuck-border-colombia-pozzebon-pkg-vpx.cnn; A. Rampietti, “Venezuelan Migrants Stranded After Border With Colombia Closed,” Al-Jazeera, 6 June 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/videos/2020/06/06/venezuelan-migrants-stranded-after-border-with-colombia-closed/

[19] Palabra, “Air COVID-19,” 1 July 2020, https://www.palabranahj.org/archive/volume-2/aircovid

[20] Reuters, “Two Dozen People Deported to Colombia on U.S Flight Found to Have Coronavirus – Sources,” 29 April 2020, https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-usa-colombia/two-dozen-people-deported-to-colombia-on-u-s-flight-found-to-have-coronavirus-sources-idUKKBN22B3DI?rpc=401&

[21] UNHCR, “Donor Update on UNHCR Covid-19 Response in Colombia (3-24 June 2020),” 24 June 2020, https://reliefweb.int/report/colombia/donor-update-unhcr-covid-19-response-colombia-8-3-24-june-2020

[22] Government of Colombia, “Response to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Human Right to Liberty and their Protection from Arbitrary Detention Questionnaire,” March 2019, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CMW/Pages/GC5.aspx

[23] Ley 985 de 2003 por medio de la cual se adoptan medidas contra la trata de personas y normas para la atención y protección de las victimas de la misma

[24] Ley 599 de 2000 por la cual se expide el Código Penal

[25] E. C. Marquez, G. Bonnici, and V. Martinez, “Que esperamos del futuro? Detención migratoria y alternativas a la detención en las Américas,” International Detention Coalition, 2017, https://idcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/INFORME-REGIONAL-AMERICAS-2017.pdf

[26] Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, “Ending Immigration Detention of Children and Providing Adequate Care and Reception for Them, A/75/183,” UN General Assembly, 20 July 2020, https://undocs.org/A/75/183

[27] E. C. Marquez, G. Bonnici, and V. Martinez, “Que esperamos del futuro? Detención migratoria y alternativas a la detención en las Américas,” International Detention Coalition, 2017, https://idcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/INFORME-REGIONAL-AMERICAS-2017.pdf

[28] E. C. Marquez, G. Bonnici, and V. Martinez, “Que esperamos del futuro? Detención migratoria y alternativas a la detención en las Américas,” International Detention Coalition, 2017, https://idcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/INFORME-REGIONAL-AMERICAS-2017.pdf

[29] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Replies of Colombia to the List of Issues, CMW/C/COL/Q/3/Add.1,” 17 June 2019, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=7&DocTypeID=22

[30] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Consideration of the Third Periodic Report Submitted by Colombia Under Article 73 of the Convention, Due in 2018, CMW/C/COL/3,” 19 July 2018, https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/1449190/1930_1541590519_g1822219.pdf

[31] [31] Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, “Ending Immigration Detention of Children and Providing Adequate Care and Reception for Them, A/75/183,” UN General Assembly, 20 July 2020, https://undocs.org/A/75/183

[32] Ministry of the Interior, “Observatorio del Delito Trata de Personas,” accessed on 12 February 2020, https://www.mininterior.gov.co/observatorio-del-delito-trata-de-personas

[33] Government of Colombia, “Response to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Human Right to Liberty and their Protection from Arbitrary Detention Questionnaire,” March 2019, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CMW/Pages/GC5.aspx

[34] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 73 of the Convention: Second Periodic Report: Colombia, CMW/C/COL/2,” 13 January 2012, https://www.refworld.org/docid/506033282.html

[35] E. C. Marquez, G. Bonnici, and V. Martinez, “Que esperamos del futuro? Detención migratoria y alternativas a la detención en las Américas,International Detention Coalition, 2017, https://idcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/INFORME-REGIONAL-AMERICAS-2017.pdf

[36] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of Colombia, Adopted by the Committee at its Eighteenth Session (15-26 April 2013) CMW/C/COL/CO/2,”  27 May 2013, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CMW/C/COL/CO/2&Lang=En

[37] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of Colombia, Adopted by the Committee at its Eighteenth Session (15-26 April 2013) CMW/C/COL/CO/2,”  27 May 2013, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CMW/C/COL/CO/2&Lang=En

[38] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),” ^,19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[39] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),” Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores,19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[40] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, “Garantías y servicios para el migrante en Colombia,Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, November 2013, http://www.migracioncolombia.gov.co/old_site/phocadownload/cartilla_red_migrante.pdf

[41] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Concluding Observations on the Third Periodic Report of Colombia, CMW/C/COL/CO/3,” 27 January 2020, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CMW/C/COL/CO/3&Lang=En

[42] Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of Colombia, Adopted by the Committee at its Eighteenth Session (15-26 April 2013), CMW/C/COL/CO/2,” 27 May 2013, https://www.refworld.org/docid/506033282.html

[43] UN Committee against Torture (CAT), “Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of Colombia, CAT/C/COL/CO/5,” 29 May 2015, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CAT/C/COL/CO/5%20&Lang=En

[44] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Replies of Colombia to the List of Issues, CMW/C/COL/Q/3/Add.1,” 17 June 2019, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=7&DocTypeID=22

[45] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),” 19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[46] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Replies of Colombia to the List of Issues, CMW/C/COL/Q/3/Add.1,” 17 June 2019, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=7&DocTypeID=22 

[47] UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), “Consideration of the Third Periodic Report Submitted by Colombia Under Article 73 of the Convention, Due in 2018, CMW/C/COL/3,” 19 July 2018, https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/1449190/1930_1541590519_g1822219.pdf 

[48] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),” 19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[49] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),” 19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[50] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),” 19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[51] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),” 19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[52] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),” 19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[53] Unidad Administrativa Migración Colombia, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, “Estudio Técnico: Salas transitorias de migración (STM),”19 April 2013, https://suifp.dnp.gov.co//Descargas/Soportes/117549/34283/ESTUDIO_TECNICO_SALAS_STM___SCM_VR.PDF

[54] Redacción Justicia, “En un ano, red movió a mil migrantes ilegales,El Tiempo, 17 August 2013, https://www.eltiempo.com/archivo/documento/CMS-13000551

DETENTION, EXPULSION, AND INCARCERATION STATISTICS

Total number of immigration detainees by year
Not Available
2019
2,911
2018
Total number of detained minors
Not Available
2017
Criminal prison population
119,269
2017
119,815
2014
120,032
2013
84,444
2010
63,603
2007
68,020
2004
49,302
2001
44,398
1998
33,258
1995
27,316
1992
Percentage of foreign prisoners
0.7
2017
0.7
2014
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
236
2017
246
2014
247
2013
181
2010
142
2007
159
2004
121
2001
115
1998
90
1995
78
1992

DEMOGRAPHICS AND IMMIGRATION-RELATED STATISTICS

Population
50,900,000
2020
48,229,000
2015
International migrants
1,142,319
2019
133,100
2015
International migrants as a percentage of the population
0.3
2015
Refugees
634
2019
310
2018
277
2017
221
2016
226
2015
213
2014
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
0.01
2016
Total number of new asylum applications
10,621
2019
399
2016
720
2014
Refugee recognition rate
22.9
2014
Stateless persons
11
2016
12
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
7,903
2014
Remittances to the country
4,232
2014
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
1,221.3
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
97 (Medium)
2015

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Civil law
2017
Constitutional guarantees?
Yes (Articles 28 and 29) 1991 2018
1991
Core pieces of national legislation
Decreto Numero 4000 de 2004, por el cual se dictan disposiciones sobre la expedición de visas, control de extranjeros y se dictan otras disposiciones en materia de migración (2004)
2004
Decreto Numero 834 de 2013, por el cual se establecen disposiciones en materia migratoria de la República de Colombia (2013)
2013
Decreto Numero 1067 de 2015, por medio del cual se expide el Decreto Único Reglamentario del Sector Administrativo de Relaciones Exteriores (2015)
2015
Decreto 4062 de 2011, por el cual se crea la Unidad Administrativa Especial Migración Colombia, se establece su objetivo y estructura (2011)
2011
Additional legislation
Decreto 2840 de 2013, por el cual se establece el Procedimiento para el Reconocimiento de la Condición de Refugiado, se dictan normas sobre la Comisión Asesora para la Determinación de la Condición de Refugiado y otras disposiciones (2013)
2013
Immigration-status-related grounds
Detention to establish/verify identity and nationality
2004
Detention to effect removal
2004
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Unaccompanied minors () No
2019

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Individual complaints procedure
Acceptance Year
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2007
2007
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 1969
1969
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Observation Date
2/9
2/9
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Recommendation Year
Committee on Migrant Workers

§23. The Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary steps to ensure that migration status checks are conducted in a way that does not violate the rights of the persons concerned, particularly the right to integrity of the person. The Committee also recommends that the State party ensure that the procedures used when detaining migrant workers and members of their families who are in an irregular situation, including those who are in transit, are in accordance with articles 16 and 17 of the Convention. The Committee invites the State party to make sure that conditions in temporary migrant holding centres meet international standards.

2013
2013
Committee on Migrant Workers

§21.The Committee noted that the centres run by the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) are used to detain migrants in an irregular situation. However, the Committee is concerned at gaps in the information provided by the State party with regard to the procedures for the detention of migrants by the Administrative Department of Security.

§22. The Committee invites the State party to provide detailed information on the procedures applied by the Administrative Department of Security for the detention of migrant workers and members of their families. The Committee would also like to receive detailed information on the registration system and the physical conditions of the facilities in which migrants are held in the DAS centres.

§23.The Committee notes that it is planned to establish a migrants’ reception centre in the near future.

§24. The Committee recommends that the State party finalize its plans for a migrants’ reception centre, so as to establish a special centre to receive migrant workers and their family members, which respects and guarantees the rights enshrined in the Convention.

2009
2009
Regional legal instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ACHR, American Convention on Human Rights 1973
1973
IACPPT, Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture 1998
1998
APACHR, Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1997
1997
CBDP, Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belem do Para) 1996
1996
IACFDP, Inter-American convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons 2005
2005
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Year of Visit
Observation Date
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance 1996
1996
2015
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences 2001
2001
2015
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance 2003
2003
2015
Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health 2007
2007
2015
Working Group on arbitrary detention 2008
2008
2015
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions 2009
2009
2015
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2009
2017
No 2013

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Custodial authority
()