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Guatemala, Venezuela get asylum laws

Briefing Notes, 12 October 2001

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 12 October 2001, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Guatemala has passed domestic legislation implementing the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. The legislation establishes an eligibility procedure for determining refugee status and sets up a government structure to deal with refugees and asylum seekers in Guatemala. The legislation entered into force on October 3.

UNHCR has been carrying out refugee status determination in Guatemala under its mandate. The new legislation means that the government, with UNHCR support, will now be able to begin to take over this function.

In Venezuela, the Organic Law on Refugees and Asylees was published in the Official Gazette on October 3, officially bringing the law into effect. The law establishes the right to seek asylum in Venezuela, and outlines asylum procedures and the rights and responsibilities of the state and of refugees in Venezuela. Venezuela's National Assembly had passed the law on August 28.

The new laws are an important step forward in UNHCR's efforts to promote proper legal and institutional frameworks for refugee protection throughout the Americas region.

Both Guatemala and Venezuela are States Parties to international refugee instruments. Guatemala acceded to both the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol.

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