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Dejusticia intervenes in defense of Venezuelan migrants’ right to health

The Constitutional Court invited Dejusticia to present their legal opinion on two cases concerning the right to health of people coming from Venezuela.

Por: Lucía Ramírez BolívarMay 29, 2018

On 3 May 2018 we presented a statement before the Constitutional Court related to two tutelas introduced in Cúcuta (Norte de Santander), which called for the protection of the right to health of Venezuelan migrants. The first was the case of a four-year-old boy with two large hernias, and the second a woman with cervical cancer who was the head of her household. Both plaintiffs asked to be provided medical attention, beyond that of emergencies, necessary to protect their health, dignity, and life, regardless of their migration status.

At Dejusticia, we recognize that the humanitarian crisis currently facing the Venezuelan people has made it more and more difficult for citizens to access their rights. Grave situations of poverty and the collapse of the Venezuelan health system have limited access to medical services and medicines, seriously threatening the life and dignity of the people. It has been shown that the search for basic health services is one of the principal reasons that Venezuelan families leave their country.

Given the current situation in Venezuela and the constitutional principles of non-discrimination and equality in Colombia, Dejusticia believes that, in accordance with the national and international obligations that Colombia has assumed with respect to the rights of foreigners, the Colombian State has a minimum obligation to protect the right to basic medical attention for all migrants.

In this regard, we believe that migrants face a series of barriers that limit their access to services. Of particular concern is the requirement of regularized migratory status, which we consider to be an unconstitutional prerequisite for accessing the fundamental right to health. Furthermore, Colombia has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), in which the Committee on ESCR interpreted that providing the core components of the right to health requires access that is both timely and equal to preventive, curative and palliative care, as well as to essential medicines.

For those under special protection, as the plaintiffs are—being a child and a person with a chronic illness—the Constitutional Court has recognized the need for a greater level of protection with respect to their specific vulnerabilities. In these specific cases, we argue for the necessity of full protection of the law and complete access to necessary medical services, regardless of migratory status.

Finally, we reiterate the need for a general response regarding the right to health of people coming to Colombia from Venezuela who are forced to migrate due to the country’s situation. We call for the Ministry of Health and Social Protection to develop and implement a comprehensive health policy that guarantees the right to health for all migrants from Venezuela, and which provides basic medical attention—including the fundamental components of this right that were previously mentioned—regardless of migratory status.

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