22 July 2020
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)
26 June 2020
The Covid-19 crisis has had a dramatic impact on Peru’s economic and social situation. As of 25 May 2020, Peru had recorded more than 260,000 cases and 8,586 deaths related to the disease, making it the Latin American country with most cases and deaths from Covid-19 after Brazil.
A report by the World Bank Group reported that Venezuelan migrants residing in Peru (around 830,000) are particularly at risk from Covid-19 due to several factors, including inadequate access to health and social services as well as loss of employment. The report stated that when falling ill, only 33 percent of Venezuelan migrants (compared to 48 percent of Peruvians) sought medical care in a health centre or a doctor’s office, mostly due to a lack of financial resources and insurance coverage. Many Venezuelan migrants in Peru work in the informal sector and due to the Covid-19 crisis have lost their employment and income, leaving many in a situation of extreme poverty.
UN agencies have distributed food parcels and water, provided by the private sector, to some 5,000 families in vulnerable situations. This was intended to cover essential needs during the sanitary emergency to avoid people going out to buy food. According to the IOM director in Peru, “more than 80% of the Venezuelan population in Peru works in the informal sector and that people live off daily income. After 25 days of compulsory social isolation, these persons are in great need of assistance.”
Migrants and refugees are being accommodated in overpopulated shelters. “Accion contra el Hambre” has been distributing food, water, and hygiene kits across the shelters as well as providing support to improve their sanitation infrastructure and hygiene conditions. The organisation has reported that Venezuelan migrants are suffering from increased xenophobia and that this vulnerable population has been left out of subsidy plans during the pandemic.
Certain measures have been taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19 within penal institutions. Peruvian authorities announced the creation of 60 temporary facilities to treat prisoners suffering from Covid-19 on 20 April and thousands of prisoners have been released since April. On 19 May, 933 prisoners were released, most of whom were at least 60 years old and had been sentenced for minor offences. The following day, the Minister of Justice announced that they expect to release approximately 10,000 prisoners on remand and at least 2,500 convicted offenders.
A riot took place on 27 April at the Miguel Castro Castro prison in Lima, which is severely overpopulated. Although it has a capacity of only 1,140 places, there are reportedly 5,500 prisoners. Three prisoners were killed following an operation led by the police and prison guards intended to regain control of the prison. As of 20 May, 2,800 members of staff (out of 11,000) and 3,212 prisoners (out of 96,870) were tested for the disease and 674 employees and 1,223 prisoners tested positive.
- Prison Insider, “Coronavirus: la fièvre des prisons”, 18 March 2020, www.prison-insider.com/articles/coronavirus-la-fievre-des-prisons
- M.E. Davalos, “Migrantes y Refugiados Venezolanos en El Peru: El Impacto de la Crisis del Covid-19,” World Bank, 1 June 2020, http://documentos.bancomundial.org/curated/es/647431591197541136/Migrantes-y-Refugiados-Venezolanos-en-El-Peru-El-Impacto-de-la-Crisis-del-Covid-19
- WorldoMeter, “Covid-19: Coronavirus Pandemic,” accessed on 25 June 2020, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?
- La República, “Instalarán 60 Módulos Temporales en Centros Penitenciarios para Atender a Internos con Covid-19,” 20 April 2020, https://larepublica.pe/sociedad/2020/04/20/coronavirus-en-peru-instalaran-60-modulos-temporales-en-centros-penitenciarios-para-atender-a-internos-con-covid-19/
- La República, “933 Personas Salieron de las Cárceles Durante la Emergencia Sanitaria,” 19 May 2020, https://larepublica.pe/sociedad/2020/05/18/coronavirus-en-peru-933-personas-fueron-liberadas-durante-emergencia-sanitaria/
- Socided LR, “INPE: 182 Internos y 12 Trabajadores han Fallecido por Covid-19,” La República, 20 May 2020, https://larepublica.pe/sociedad/2020/05/19/coronavirus-en-peru-182-internos-y-12-trabajadores-del-inpe-han-fallecido-por-covid-19-video/
- Le Figaro, “Mutinerie dans une Prison au Pérou: Trois Morts,” 28 April 2020, https://www.lefigaro.fr/international/mutinerie-dans-une-prison-au-perou-trois-morts-20200428
- United Nations News, “Perú y la ONU se Alían para Ayudar a los Refugiados y Migrantes Venezolanos Afectados por el Coronavirus,” 17 April 2020, https://news.un.org/es/story/2020/04/1473012
- O. Pieper, “Perú: crisis por coronavirus y peligro para refugiados venezolanos,” DW, 24 June 2020, https://www.dw.com/es/per%C3%BA-crisis-por-coronavirus-y-peligro-para-refugiados-venezolanos/a-53918863
- Acción Contra la Hambre, “Peru: Migrantes Venezolanos y Trabajadores Irregulares los Mas Afectados por la Pandemia,” 11 May 2020, https://reliefweb.int/report/peru/migrantes-venezolanos-y-trabajadores-irregulares-los-m-s-afectados-por-la-pandemia
- IOM Worker Handing Food Parcels to Migrants, (IOM, "Perú y la ONU se Alían Para Ayudar a los Refugiados y Migrantes Venezolanos Afectados por el Coronavirus," UN News, 17 April 2020, https://news.un.org/es/story/2020/04/1473012)