The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today welcomed El Salvador's approval of new legislation governing the rights of those forced to flee across borders.
"The passage of this legislation by the National Assembly is a very important step towards the institutionalization of refugee status determination in the region," said agency spokesman Peter Kessler. "It is a clear sign of the will of El Salvador to fully comply with its commitment to refugee law and the human rights of asylum-seekers."
UNHCR has long been working with the Salvadoran Government to prepare the law, which is pending signature by the country's President to take effect. The legislation establishes clear procedures for refugees to request asylum under international standards, and creates a commission for the determination of refugee status.
During the late 1980s, UNHCR worked with El Salvador mainly on repatriating its own nationals - more than 32,000 since 1987 - and on protecting asylum-seekers arriving to the country. In recent years, the agency has focused on establishing local structures within El Salvador to deal with asylum-seekers and refugees arriving to the country from other parts of the world, particularly Colombians fleeing persecution.