UNHCR welcomes Belize amnesty

Briefing Notes, 14 May 1999

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Judith Kumin to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 14 May 1999, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The Government of Belize has announced an amnesty programme to regularize the status of undocumented persons (including many refugees) staying in the country. For one month from May 17, undocumented immigrants may come forward for registration. UNHCR welcomes this move.

Beneficiaries of the amnesty will include individuals with no legal status who have resided in Belize for at least four years, families with children born in Belize and persons married to a Belizean citizen. These categories include significant numbers of refugees from neighbouring Central American countries who entered Belize in the 1980s and early 1990s but never regularized their stay.

Belize signed the 1951 Refugee Convention in 1990 and incorporated its provisions into domestic law in 1991.