New immigration policy is confusing

Through the media, Human Rights Defense Curaçao (HRDC) has taken note of the reports that the Minister of Justice has decided to “Responsibly Integrate”. This has led to quite a few reactions and questions from our human rights organization, especially from the undocumented, and especially from the side of Venezuelans, who have fled the dramatic and persistent crisis in their country.

For years they have been asking for opportunities to live and work here on our island, in a fair and legal way. Various options were advocated: from temporary work and residence permits to a general amnesty.

After years of neglect of the immigration issue and even violations of basic human rights of vulnerable migrants and refugees, the Curaçao Minister of Justice has now publicly opened a few days ago by announcing an “Integrashon responsable” (responsible integration). With this action he has raised great expectations in many about their chances of finally being able to be part of our society in freedom and no longer be at the mercy of the inhumane and repressive vagaries of the government.

Unfortunately, it is questionable whether this decision will finally bring the justice and legal certainty that human rights defenders have been advocating for years, both locally and internationally. Is there really a well thought-out and transparent immigration policy or is it more of an old trick that has been announced more often in the past?

The sudden announcement, which is not accompanied by a clear information campaign about what exactly the scheme entails, is causing a lot of unrest and confusion among people, who are already struggling enough. HRDC wants to be able to provide clarity to pressing questions from our target group, such as:

What will happen to the large group of people if it turns out that they cannot make use of this scheme because - unforeseen - they cannot meet the (as yet unclear) conditions?

Is it known that migrants, who rush to the official authorities after this announcement full of hope, are being sent away with the reaction that they have not yet received instructions for implementation of this new policy?

What happens to people who come forward because they believe they are eligible for this scheme, but who, in the opinion of the authorities, do not comply with it? Will they be detained or will they still be registered in a government file?

Which group benefits from the “Integrashon responsable”? Will it only be about attracting a select group of highly skilled migrants / wealthy people and will people from a different social class, without academic skills and with insufficient income be excluded?

Has this policy been drawn up in such a way, in coordination with the other parts of the Kingdom, so that the Kingdom government does not again have to undergo painful treatment in international fora as the ultimate responsible for violations of human rights?

In short, there still seem to be a little caveat. For HRDC and various cooperation partners, the question remains whether this means the migration policy of Curaçao that has been in the making for years or does this announcement of the Minister's “Integrashon responsable” remain? The ball now lies with him to provide real clarity about what his new policy entails and what the procedures and other requirements are.

HRDC finds the fact that while the Ministers tried to showcase their new policy line of opportunities for migrants in a church in Steenrijk, HRDC finds the umpteenth deportation flight (euphemistically referred to as repatriation flight) filled elsewhere on the island, namely at Hato Airport with Venezuelans who were deported from the immigration barracks as criminals.

HRDC urges the government to finally make progress in formulating and implementing a sound, inclusive and coherent migrant policy. In the post-covid Curaçao society we can use the talents and strengths of bona fide and productive migrants, without distinction according to social class, color, or gender.

Ieteke Witteveen
Director Human Rights Defense Curacao
Tel: + 5999-7880126 / 5650485


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