Curaçao authorities refuse to protect people fleeing Venezuela crisis
Authorities in Curacao and the Netherlands have violated the rights of Venezuelans seeking international protection in Curacao, Amnesty International said today in the new report, Still no security: Venezuelans deprived of protection in Curaçao. The organization documented 22 cases of Venezuelans, including children, who were victims of human rights violations such as automatic detention in inhumane conditions, mistreatment, family separation and denial of their right to seek protection. asylum.
Nearly 5.7 million Venezuelans have fled the human rights crisis in their country, making it one of the biggest forced displacement crises in the world. Curacao, a neighboring Caribbean island that is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is one of the destination countries. An estimated 17,000 Venezuelans live with irregular migration status on the island.
“It is unacceptable that the Kingdom of the Netherlands has supported the authorities in Curaçao in rounding up, detaining and deporting people who fled Venezuela in search of safety. Instead of turning a blind eye when people’s human rights are violated, the Dutch authorities should ensure that they receive the international protection they need, ”said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Director of the Americas at Amnesty International.
Still no protection
Amnesty International has found that the situation of Venezuelans seeking protection in Curaçao has not improved since the publication of the report. Detained and deported in 2018. Although Curaçao has introduced a new international protection procedure, it still does not respect international human rights law and standards. For example, Venezuelans fleeing the crisis are still automatically detained for indefinite periods, during which they are forced to sign consent to deportation forms and have very limited access to legal assistance. Protection assessment interviews are conducted by government officials who are also responsible for arresting illegal aliens. So far, the new procedure has only led to the rejection of applications for protected status. The organization is deeply concerned that Curaçao is therefore returning people to Venezuela where they are at risk of serious human rights violations, in violation of the international principle of non-refoulement.
The conditions in the “Barracks for foreigners”, the detention center of Sentro di Detenshon i Korekshon Korsou (SDKK) prison, remain inhuman, with detainees subjected to sensory deprivation, overcrowding, confinement among convicts. and lack of privacy. Venezuelans told Amnesty International that prison guards subjected them to degrading and inhuman treatment, such as physical and verbal abuse, and forced them to jump like naked frogs. In 2019, police shot a group of Venezuelans who were in the aliens barracks with rubber bullets. The intentional and disproportionate force the police used against them, and the seriousness of the injuries, may amount to ill-treatment or torture.
Miguel, who was among those hit by rubber bullets, remembers how the guards punished him and his group for trying to protect themselves: “Then the madness started: the guards didn’t let us sleep. They were making noise all the time with hammers. I slept on the floor and malnourished. I lost thirty-five pounds in five months. They psychologically damaged us to make sure we left the island.
Child detention and family separation
Curaçao violated the rights of Venezuelan children by detaining them and separating them from their parents who live on the island. Amnesty International discovered eight cases of children who were or had been detained among adults at the Aliens Barracks or in institutions for minors. They were not reunited with their parents, nor were the parents allowed to visit them. Instead, the Curaçao authorities deported them or were considering deporting them without the knowledge or permission of their parents. The intentional and severe mental suffering that government officials inflicted by expelling children and separating them from their parents can, in some cases, amount to torture.
In Yusmari’s case, her two sons, aged 15 and 16 at the time, were automatically detained in the aliens barracks after the Coast Guard intercepted them and handed them over to Curaçao Immigration Police. . Yusmari, who was already living with irregular migration status on the island, remembers when they were placed in the aliens barracks: “Every time we called, we cried. Her youngest son, who is now back in Venezuela, told Amnesty International: “I felt bad. I wasn’t used to being locked up. After two days, Yusmari’s sons were detained in a youth institution where she was not allowed to contact or visit them. When she finally got permission and arrived at the youth institution, she learned that authorities in Curaçao had already deported her children.
Contribution of the Netherlands to human rights violations
Despite various alarming signals of serious violations of the rights of refugees and migrants in recent years, the Dutch authorities have stepped up their active cooperation and support in Curaçao, mainly in the area of detection, detention and deportation. irregular migrants and people seeking protection.
In November 2019, the Dutch military assisted in the custody of a group of illegally detained Venezuelans, who appear to have been collectively expelled in violation of international law. The Netherlands has also provided the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard with equipment and personnel to intercept those arriving by boat irregularly, regardless of the high risk they run of being subjected to human rights violations on land. .
The Dutch authorities have not created any binding human rights guarantees, independent monitoring mechanisms or investigating alleged violations while supporting the authorities in Curaçao. The responsible secretary of state has repeatedly said that the Dutch authorities have no obligation to do so, as the Dutch government considers migration policy and possible violations to be Curaçao’s responsibility.
However, Amnesty International considers that international obligations to respect and protect human rights also apply to the Netherlands when supporting the authorities in Curaçao. The Dutch authorities clearly failed to do so and thus contributed to a system of violations.
Amnesty International calls on the authorities in Curaçao to guarantee the rights of Venezuelans seeking protection by creating an asylum procedure in accordance with international standards. They should stop the detention of children and the separation of families; and use adult detention only as a last resort. They must conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations committed during arrest or detention.
The government of the Netherlands should assess the human rights risks and create binding human rights guarantees applicable to the support it provides to the authorities in Curaçao. In addition, the Netherlands should establish an independent investigation to investigate its responsibilities in providing assistance and other forms of cooperation between the Netherlands and Curaçao in the field of migration and international protection, in particular the guard of Venezuelans in the gym in 2019 and the actions of the coast guard.
Still no security: Venezuelans deprived of protection in Curaçao (Research, October 11, 2021)
Detained and Deported: Venezuelans Deprived of Protection in Curaçao (Research, September 9, 2018)
Contact: Gabby Arias, [email protected]