Published On: Thu, Jun 28th, 2018

Destructive report ombudsman on refugee policy Curaçao

Venezuelans2WILLEMSTAD - Curaçao violates the European Convention on Human Rights with its deportation policy. This is what the local ombudsman concludes in a devastating report. This mainly concerns Venezuelans who flee the crisis country, reach Curaçao by plane or boat and stay here illegally.

The boats leave from the north coast of Venezuela. A hellish journey, with often fatal consequences. The Coast Guard of Curaçao patrols intensively on the sea between the island and Venezuela. Last year more than 300 Venezuelans were intercepted, 400 percent more than in the previous year.

Deported from the island as soon as possible

The Curaçao government is pursuing a harsh deportation policy that, according to the Ombudsman, is contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Curaçao is an autonomous country within the Kingdom but must adhere to the treaty. The arrested Venezuelans are now deported from the country as quickly as possible, without checking whether they are entitled to asylum.

On May 4, for example, 64 people were detained in Curaçao, and between May 5 and 10, almost all of them were deported. Refugee organization UNHCR specifically called on countries in the region to protect the rights of Venezuelan refugees and to provide access to the asylum procedure.

The Ombudsman writes in his report that he has recently received information about "various cases" in which illegal Venezuelans, who have explicitly requested access to the Curaçao asylum procedure, "that access has been refused".

Moreover, in many cases, the detainee would have been informed that there is no asylum procedure, or the asylum request was not explicitly answered. Many officials in the judicial chain also make 'ad-hoc decisions' with the requests of the detained Venezuelans, and their officials are ill-informed about the correct procedures.

It is also a thorn in the face of the ombudsman migrants and people who are in danger of being threatened or mistreated in their own country, there is a chance that legitimate refugees will remain unnoticed.

Curaçao does not yet have an asylum center, so the arrested Venezuelans are detained in the Curaçao prison. Earlier, the Netherlands announced that it wanted to share expertise in this area and to free up 132,000 euros for an asylum center on the island.

The Ombudsman acknowledges in his report that Curaçao has limited possibilities as a small island with limited resources. Nevertheless, he calls on the Minister of Justice to immediately stop the automatic return of detained Venezuelans as quickly as possible.

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