Paving the way for rights-based return management by improving legal identity systems in Cabo Verde, El Salvador, Iraq, Rwanda and Somalia

Presentation of RELICA Programme in El Salvador - IOM © International Organization for Migration

Strong legal identity infrastructure and processes in countries of origin are vital for rights-based migrant return management. Leading this effort, and also through IOM's support, Cabo Verde, Iraq, Rwanda, El Salvador, and Somalia are at the forefront of enhancing civil registration and identity management processes for their citizens, including nationals abroad.

These enhancements are crucial as many nationals lose or have their identity documents destroyed during their migration journeys, which complicates the verification of their identities, especially during return processes. Without valid identification documents and robust return management mechanisms, migrants frequently encounter difficulties when returning to their countries of origin.

IOM 2022/Ismail Salad Osman © International Organization for Migration 2022

To address these needs and to facilitate the safe return and reintegration of migrants in these countries, IOM launched the Enhancing Readmission and Legal Identity Capacities programme, or RELICA, in March 2022, thanks to fundings from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Over the last year, IOM has supported the development of robust legal identity systems in target countries, including: 

  • The digitalisation of registration archives (Cabo Verde);  
  • The provision of specialized equipment with key personnel trained on the ethical collection and use of biometrics, document examination, risk management and intelligence and data protection (Cabo Verde, Iraq, El Salvador, Rwanda);  
  • The development of the relevant legal framework (Somalia).  

Strong legal identity infrastructure in countries of origin are being bolstered by the development of an electronic Readmission Case Management System (eRCMS), which shifts systems still reliant on manual case processing to a more efficient and reliable digital solution.  

Through processes that are more secure, efficient and predictable than manual ones, which reduce the risk of human error, and support the application of international and local data protection standards, the digitalization of the return management process allows governments to adopt a comprehensive, right-based approach to the full spectrum of returns (Return, Readmission, Reintegration). These improvements are complemented with capacity development and training on international human rights law, data protection, and good practice exchanges to enhance the overall return management process. 

Regional Conference on Legal Identity, Biometrics and Border Management - IOM © International Organization for Migration

Promoting government-to-government partnerships in the management of returns, advancing regional engagement and consolidating south-south cooperation to empower receiving countries, are the foundational pillars of RELICA’s ongoing and future interventions. The programme uses a systematic evidence-based approach to tailor interventions to each government’s specific needs and expectations. In each target country, IOM has partnered with relevant government counterparts to identify and prioritize technical areas of intervention, by utilizing a blend of assessment tools including the UN Legal Identity Agenda assessment and digital maturity assessments. 

By enhancing legal identity capacities, both receiving and requesting countries are better equipped to manage readmissions, preserving good relations between States, and supporting returning migrants by streamlining procedures, for overall better migration governance, in line with Objectives 4 and 21 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. 

For more information please contact:     

In Copenhagen: Alessandro Lira, Sub-Regional Media and Communications Officer for Nordic Countries,, +45 23 66 76 33