Since 1990-ies migration of population on the territory of the former Soviet Union has fundamentally changed. The separation of social links, the appearance of military conflict zones, the growth of violence and other factors led to the increase of force migration trends, which appeared to be dramatic for millions of people.
According to article 12 of Constitution of Belarus, the people, who face prosecution in other states for their political and religious beliefs as well as for their ethnicity may be granted asylum in Belarus.
The issues, connected with provision of asylum in the Republic of Belarus were initially regulated by the Provisions on the Procedure of Considering the Issues of Providing Asylum to Foreigners and Stateless Persons, adopted by Presidential Decree #229 of November 29, 1994 and later by the Provisions on Granting Asylum to Foreigners and Stateless Persons, its Loss and Revocation, adopted by the Presidential Decree #204 of April 5, 2006.
The Law of Belarus ‘On Refugees’ was adopted in February 1995. It outlined the grounds and the procedure of acknowledging foreigners and stateless persons as refugees on the territory of Belarus, the revocation or loss of the status in accodance with the generally accepted principles and norms of international law, as well as the international treaties of Belarus. Also, there were introduced the economic, social, and legal guarantees of defending the refugees’ rights and lawful interests on equal terms with the citizens of Belarus.
The Law of Belarus ‘On Refugees’ came into force in February 1997. There was implemented the procedure of providing the refugee status to the citizens of Afghanistan and Ethiopia, who had resided for a long time in Belarus. The law implementation was started on the whole territory of Belarus in 1998. More than 2,000 foreigners applied for the refugee status at the local migration authorities within the period of time.
The Republic of Belarus joined the Convention on the Refugee Status of 1951 and the Protocol on the Refugee Status of 1967 in May 2001.
Consequently, there was elaborated and adopte the Law of Belarus ‘On Introducing Amendments and Changes to Certain Legislative Acts of Belarus in Connection with Launching the Republic of Belarus to the Convention on the Refugee Status and the Protocol on the Refugee Status’. Also, there was adopted a new edition of the Belarus Law ‘On Refugees’ that took into account the norms and regulations from the convention in the maximum possible way.
In 2006, there was started work on elaboration of a new draft law, subject to the necessity to introduce changes and amendments to the legislation on the forced migration, in particular, aimed at making more precise the notions and procedures of temporary protection and family reunification, the introduction of the institute of subsidiary protection, as well as aimed at introducing a range of legal norms, which exclude the possibility of misusing the procedure of granting the refugee status to foreigners.
The Law of Belarus of June 23, 2008 ‘On Providing Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons with the Refugee Status, Subsidiary or Temporary Protection in the Republic of Belarus’ came into force on July 3, 2009, and it fully corresponds to the norms of the Convention on the Refugee Status of 1951. Also, there were elaborated and adopted legal norms on providing financial support to foreign citizens and stateless persons, who apply for the refugee status in the Republic of Belarus as well as to foreign citizens and stateless person, who have been granted the refugee status in the country. Also, there were adopted regulations, which specified the peculiarities of stay of foreign residents and stateless persons, who apply for the refugee status or get the refugee status / subsidiary protection, on the territory of Belarus, the procedures on consideration of applications for the refugee status etc.
In order to take into account the existing law-application experience in the field of forced migration as well a with the purpose of improving the quality and efficiency of procedures on granting the refugee status or subsidiary and temporary protection to foreign citizens and stateless persons, the Chamber of Representatives of Belarus started considering a draft law ‘On Providing Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons with the Refugee Status, Subsidiary and Temporary Protection in Belarus’ in June 2015.
In connection with coming into force of Belarus Law of July 20, 2016 ‘On Introducing Changes and Amendments to Certain Laws of the Republic of Belarus on the Issues of Forced Migration’, there was started implementation of legal norms of Belarus Law ‘On Providing Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons with the Refugee Status, Subsidiary and Temporary Protection in the Republic of Belarus’ and bi-laws, which precised the law and facilitated its further development.