Unintended Consequences: Refugee Victims of the War on Terror

By Aber, Shaina; Chaffee, Devon et al. | Georgetown Journal of International Law, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview
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Unintended Consequences: Refugee Victims of the War on Terror


Aber, Shaina, Chaffee, Devon, Cohen, Mia F., Dougherty, Edward, Fleming, Mark, MacLean, Emi, Matos, Elizabeth, Pasquarella, Jennie, Shaeffer, Rebecca, Smith, Jeffrey, Smith, Tom, Taub, Amanda, Yeomans, Sarah, Georgetown Journal of International Law


GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER, HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTE MAY 2006 REFUGEE FACT-FINDING INVESTIGATION

"The thing was that I couldn't really do anything against them or tell them no. I did what any human being would do."

--Jose, Colombian taxi driver hijacked by armed guerrillas and forced to drive the guerrillas to undisclosed mountain encampments

TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

RECOMMENDATIONS
I.   INTRODUCTION
     A. Methodology
     B. History of the Colombian Conflict
     C. History of UNHCR Refugee Protection Program in Ecuador.
     D. United States Resettlement Program
II.  THE MATERIAL SUPPORT BAR TO REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT:
        LEGAL ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
     A. Legal Analysis of Material Support Provisions
        1. Definition of Material Support
        2. Definition of a Terrorist Organization
        3. Discretion to Waive the Material Support Bar
        4. Application to Asylum and Withholding of
           Removal
        5. Lack of Exceptions Violates International Law
     B. Investigative Findings: Material Support in Colombian
           Context.
        1. Categories of Material Support Given
           a. Vacuna
           b. Goods
           c. Services
           d. Affiliation
        2. Legal Problems Arising Out Of The Material
           Support Bar
           a. Lack of Duress Exception
              1. Material Support Provided Under Physical
                 Force
              2. Material Support Provided Under Explicit
                 Threat of Violence
              3. Material Support Provided Under Implicit
                 Threat of Violence
              4. Material Support Provided without Coercion
           b. Lack of De Minimis Exception for Insignificant
              Support
           c. Overbroad Definition of Terrorist Organization
           d. No Time Bar or Exception for "Support" Provided
              Before Age of Consent
           e. Exclusion of Refugees Who Inadvertently Provided
              Material Support
     C. Summary of Findings
III. RESETTLEMENT NEEDS: LEGAL ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
     A. Legal Analysis
        1. Third Country Resettlement as a Durable
           Solution
        2. The Firm Resettlement Bar to Third Country
           Resettlement
     B. Findings: Firm Resettlement in Ecuador
        1. Lack of Legal Protection for Refugees
           Recognized Under UN Mandate
        2. Security Threats Within Ecuador's Borders
           a. Persecution by Colombian Armed Groups
           b. Problems of Police Brutality and Inaction
        3. Systematic Discrimination
           a. Employment Discrimination
           b. Housing Discrimination
           c. Education Discrimination
           d. Health Care Discrimination
        4. Particularly Vulnerable Groups
           a. Women: Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation
           b. Afro-Colombians
           c. Sexual Orientation
IV.  CONCLUSION
APPENDIX: SUMMARIES OF INTERVIEWS CITED

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

"I was coming to the farm, and I was on the road when they captured me. They took my motorcycle and all my food. They took everything I had." (1)

Jorge resisted providing a vacuna ("war tax") to the FARC guerrillas in Colombia, though the guerrillas asked him repeatedly for it. Once the armed conflict enveloped his village--with regular helicopter barrages and armed fighting encroaching on his farm--he could not endure the violence any longer. He fled with his family to Ecuador.

But, the Colombian conflict followed Jorge to Ecuador. After the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) granted Jorge refugee status, guerrillas kidnapped him and chained him up in the mountains for forty-five days. The guerrillas accused him of collaborating with the Ecuadorian government; they told him that his refugee papers proved his complicity. During the abduction, they stole his motorcycle and supplies.

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