Curacao denies Venezuelans right to asylum: Amnesty International

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The government of Curacao is denying fleeing Venezuelans their international right to asylum, according to a report Amnesty International published on Monday. The human rights organization calls on the Netherlands to intervene, ANP reports.

Curacao is only 70 kilometers from Venezuela. Like other countries in the region, the island is a refuge for the Venezuelans fleeing the increasingly violent crisis in their country. According to current estimates, between 5 thousand and 15 thousand Venezuelans are currently staying on Curacao, a Caribbean island that forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

Although the government in Curacao claims to have an asylum procedure in place, the reality proves that it is virtually impossible to apply for asylum on the island, according to Amnesty. This is in conflict with the international right to protection. According to Amnesty, Venezuelans have no choice but to stay on the island illegally.

Asylum seekers who have not been granted residency permits are also detained in detention centers and police cells under very worrying conditions, the human rights organization said. This includes overcrowded cells, a lack of privacy, poor hygiene and too few beds. 

"We are deeply concerned about the lack of protection of Venezuelan asylum seekers and refugees on Curacao. The fact that they are being detained by default under terrible circumstances is also very worrying", Erika Guevara-Rosas, director of Amnesty International, said. According to Amnesty, both Curacao and the Kingdom of the Netherlands have the responsibility to address these violations of international human rights. 

GroenLinks parliamentarian Bram van Oijk is demanding an explanation from State Secretary Mark Harbers of Justice and Security, who is responsible for Asylum. "No human being should fear the degrading treatments described in Amnesty's report in our Kingdom", he said to NU.nl. GroenLinks believes that the Dutch government has been "too negligent for too long" in monitoring the establishment of fair and just asylum procedures in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. "We can not close our eyes to the suffering and violence that takes place in Venezuela."

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