Skip to main content

The Netherlands Should Protect Venezuelan Refugees

Fate of Asylum Seekers in Curaçao Continues to Cause Concern

Colombian police officers stand in front of people queueing to try to cross into Colombia from Venezuela through the Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, Colombia. January 24, 2018. © 2018 Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

The devastating crisis in Venezuela has triggered the largest migration flow of its kind in recent Latin American history. But not all those who flee seeking safety in the Americas will get a fair hearing. 

For example, Venezuelans who fled to Curaçao, a constituent country of The Netherlands located in the Caribbean, have reportedly suffered serious abuses. Human Rights Watch received credible information, included in a recent report, that Curaçaoan authorities are sweeping up asylum seekers in immigration raids, verbally and physically harassing them, and detaining others indefinitely in inhumane conditions and without access to lawyers. Authorities have also allegedly deported some Venezuelan asylum seekers.

Hundreds of Venezuelans have sought asylum in Curaçao over the past year. Yet to the best of our knowledge the government of Curaçao has not issued a single asylum-seeker certificate.

Curaçaoan authorities have questioned our methodology and denied our findings, apparently without conducting any kind of meaningful inquiry. The Dutch government has emphasized that Curaçao is solely responsible for asylum and migration issues on its own territory and will remain so.

Curaçao is bound by international law, which demands states do not return asylum seekers if they face torture or inhumane treatment.

This week Human Rights Watch warned both the Curaçaoan and Netherlands governments that they risk violating their international obligations to Venezuelans in need. Venezuela’s exodus will not end any time soon, and it’s vital that those who flee to safety are not denied it.

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.