WILLEMSTAD - The Human Rights Defense Curacao Foundation expresses great concern about the fact that here in Curaçao a group of 9 Venezuelan refugees have been detained for over 6 months under a regime equivalent to a prison.
These persons have not committed a criminal offense. They have been locked up because they have sought access to our island, driven by the political economic crisis in their country and disregarding the administrative rules of Curacao.
It is in itself worrying that our authorities cannot show understanding or empathy for this extremely vulnerable group of migrants. But the fact that these people are being illegally held hostage and exposed to intimidation and other gross violations of human rights and acts in violation of our own national rules is completely unacceptable.
These crisis migrants are detained for longer than the legally permitted period of 6 months. All this time they are being held under inhumane conditions without the prospect of an end of their detention.
They are all traumatized, some have serious medical problems, they suffer from scabies and other skin diseases, stomach ailments and other conditions. This is because they are deprived of adequate medical and psychological help. They are even shot with rubber bullets.
When the barracks were overcrowded again recently, and someone wanted to escape, everyone was punished by having to sit in the hot sun for hours. Indignation about getting a cold piece of food too late was punished by seclusion, without access to a telephone, as if they were ordinary criminals.
It is well understood that these long-term detained refugees, in their desperate situation, decided on Sunday, January 19 to go on a hunger strike. On Tuesday, January 21, one of the female hunger strikers had to give up her action due to serious weakening and illness.
Ultimately, it is the Curaçao government that will be held responsible if this desperate action leads to physical injury or the death of one of the hunger strikers.
Because HRDefense is unable to receive answers from the Minister of Justice, there is nothing else to do to make this degrading situation public and to report it to international organizations that stand up for justice and human rights.
Human Rights Defense Curaçao
Ieteke Inchi Witteveen, Directeur
Tel. +5999-5650485 / 6962523