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UNHCR regrets deportations of Venezuelans from Trinidad and Tobago

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in a press release issued today expressed it deeply regrets the deportation this past weekend by Trinidad and Tobago of 82 Venezuelan nationals. According to the agency, these include registered asylum-seekers and individuals who had declared an intention to apply for refugee status, making their return to Venezuela a breach of international refugee law.

“The forced return of this group is of great concern,” said Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. “We are in contact with the authorities and are seeking clarification on the legal process which has led to the deportations of this group, to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago continues to abide by its international obligations.”

The group, which had been held in detention in Trinidad and Tobago, was deported from the country on Saturday despite UNHCR’s request for access to the individuals concerned and written interventions.

UNHCR calls on Trinidad and Tobago to continue to abide by its international obligations as signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention and other applicable international instruments that are incorporated into its official Refugee Policy, in particular the principle of non-return, known as non-refoulement, and Article 31 of the Convention which requests signatories “not to impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence” to people who are in need of international protection.

The UN system in Trinidad and Tobago last Sunday, also indicated it was concerned by the return of Venezuelans. "The United Nations is concerned for the welfare of these people and is in contact with the appropriate authorities in Port of Spain to ensure that any person in need of protection will get it without fail," said the UN Resident Coordinator, Richard Blewitt, through a press release.

Mr. Blewitt’s comments came after the Ministry of National Security announced that 82 Venezuelan citizens who had been held in detention in Trinidad and Tobago, had been turned over to the Venezuelan Embassy for repatriation to Venezuela.

They were flown out of Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday aboard a Venezuelan Government aircraft. The Ministry statement said all returns were voluntary although this could not be verified independently by United Nations observers.

Venezuelans have been leaving their country in growing numbers, many in need of international protection and seeking temporary refuge in countries of the Americas region, including in some Caribbean small island states like Trinidad and Tobago.

The United Nations, including UNHCR and its local partners have encouraged the prompt adoption of national legislation on refugee issues, and work together to support the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in its efforts to develop, straighten and implement its asylum policy, as well as to support host communities, while offering guidance and assistance to people in need of international protection.

Información en español

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UNHCR regret at deportations of Venezuelans from Trinidad and Tobago

as released by UNHCR :

UNHCR logo

23 April 2018   | 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, deeply regrets the deportation this past weekend by Trinidad and Tobago of 82 Venezuelan nationals. The 82 include registered asylum-seekers and individuals who had declared an intention to apply for refugee status, making their return to Venezuela a breach of international refugee law.

“The forced return of this group is of great concern,” said Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. “We are in contact with the authorities and are seeking clarification on the legal process which has led to the deportations of this group, to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago continues to abide by its international obligations.”

The group, which had been held in detention in Trinidad and Tobago, was deported from the country on Saturday despite UNHCR’s request for access to the individuals concerned and written interventions.

UNHCR calls on Trinidad and Tobago to continue to abide by its international obligations as signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention and other applicable international instruments that are incorporated into its official Refugee Policy, in particular the principle of non-return, known as non-refoulement, and Article 31 of the Convention which requests signatories “not to impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence” to people who are in need of international protection.

UNHCR will continue working closely with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to complement its efforts aimed at developing, strengthening and implementing its asylum policy, as well as to support host communities, while offering guidance and assistance to people in need of international protection.

Contacts:

  • In Washington DC, Chris Boian, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +1 202 243 7634
  • In New York, Kathryn Mahoney, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +1 347 443 7646
  • In Mexico, Francesca Fontanini, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +52 1 (55) 9197 2690
  • In Geneva, Aikaterini Kitidi, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +41 79 580 8334
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United Nations concerned by Trinidad and Tobago return of Venezuelans

Port of Spain, 22 April 2018 - The United Nations System in Trinidad and Tobago is concerned after authorities in Trinidad and Tobago announced they had facilitated the return to Venezuela of scores of Venezuelan citizens, including asylum seekers, who had been in detention.

"The United Nations is concerned for the welfare of these people and is in contact with the appropriate authorities in Port of Spain to ensure that any person in need of protection will get it without fail," said the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Richard Blewitt, today.

Mr. Blewitt’s comments came after the Ministry of National Security announced that 82 Venezuelan citizens who had been held in detention in Trinidad and Tobago, had been turned over to the Venezuelan Embassy for repatriation to Venezuela.

The group, comprising 53 men and 29 women, included several individuals who had been registered as asylum seekers in Trinidad and Tobago as well as others who had initiated asylum requests or had signaled an intention to do so.

They were flown out of Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday aboard a Venezuelan Government aircraft. The Ministry statement said all returns were voluntary although this could not be verified independently by United Nations observers.

Venezuelans have been leaving their country in growing numbers, many in need of international protection and seeking temporary refuge in countries of the Americas region, including in some Caribbean small island States like Trinidad and Tobago.

The United Nations and its local partners have encouraged the prompt adoption of national legislation on refugee issues, and work together to support the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in its efforts to develop an efficient and secure asylum system.

Contact

Ruben Barbado, Protection Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: 1-868-623-7056 ext. 26

 

 


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UN migration agency rolls out regional response to ongoing Venezuelans exodus

As the exodus has considerably increased over the last two years, an estimated 1.6 million Venezuelans were abroad in 2017, up from 700,000 in 2015, with 1.3 million in the Americas, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“The plan is tailored to specific national contexts across 17 countries including eight South American countries, six Caribbean countries, two Central American countries and Mexico,” explained Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean.

The exodus is not letting up. For instance, more than 800 Venezuelans are estimated to be entering Brazil each day, bringing the total arrivals to more than 52,000 since the beginning of 2017, according to the host Government.

IOM’s regional plan seeks to strengthen the response to the needs and priorities expressed by concerned governments and focuses on such activities as data collection and dissemination, capacity building and coordination, direct support and socio-economic integration.

Diego Beltrand, IOM Regional Director for South America, encourages host countries to consider adopting measures, such as regularizing the stay of Venezuelans, and called for the international community to contribute to the regional plan, which requires $32.3 million to implement.

[ this story was originally posted on UN News ]

Infographics

venezuela infographic1      venezuelainfographic2

student read iconNearly 800 Venezuelans arriving in Brazil each day, many seeking asylum, UN refugee agency says

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UN agency issues refugee protection guidance for thousands of Venezuelans fleeing crisis-torn country

As deepening economic woes force thousands of Venezuelans to flee the crisis-gripped country, the United Nations on Tuesday issued guidance on treating the population as “refugees,” while the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the outflow into neighboring countries such as Colombia constitutes a “humanitarian disaster.”

“The movements are taking place for a variety of reasons, including insecurity and violence, lack of food, medicine or access to essential social services as well as loss of income,” Aikaterini Kitidi, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters at the regular press briefing in Geneva.

“While not all Venezuelans leaving are prompted to do so for refugee-related reasons, it is becoming increasingly clear that, while all may not be refugees, a significant number are in need of international protection,” she added.
Since 2014, there has been a 2,000 per cent increase in the number of Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum worldwide, principally in the Americas during the last year.
While in 2017 over 94,000 Venezuelans have been able to access refugee procedures in other countries, many in need of protection opt for other legal stay arrangements, which may be faster to obtain and provide the right to work, access to health and education.

Yet, hundreds of thousands remain without documentation or legal permission to stay in asylum countries – making them vulnerable to discrimination, trafficking, sexual abuse and xenophobia.
UNHCR’s guidelines encourage States to ensure Venezuelans have access to territory and refugee procedures.

“In addition,” Ms. Kitidi pointed out “UNHCR welcomes and calls on governments to adopt pragmatic protection-oriented responses for the Venezuelan people, such as alternative legal stay arrangements, including visas or temporary residence permits, as well as other regularization programmes, which guarantee access to the basic rights of health care, education, family unity, freedom of movement, shelter and the right to work.”

UNHCR applauds countries in Latin America that have introduced such arrangements, and hopes that costs and requirements are eased, where necessary to ensure accessibility.

“It is crucial that people are not deported or forcibly returned there,” she underscored.
While Governments in the region have been generous in their response, host communities receiving Venezuelans are under increasing strain and need urgent and robust support, to promote peaceful coexistence and prevent manifestations of discrimination and xenophobia.

“UNHCR is working with Governments to address the protection and basic needs of the outflow,” she continued. “Consequently, UNHCR has developed a regional response plan that covers eight countries and the Caribbean sub-region.”

Meanwhile, WFP Executive Director David Beasley, who is in Colombia, said the outflow of Venezuelans into neighbouring countries constitutes a “humanitarian disaster.” He said it was catastrophic that around 50,000 people are now choosing to cross the border each day, just at one location – “and that’s the legal border crossing.”

Read the full story at: UN News

More information on the UNHCR Guidance Note on the Outflow of Venezuelans

 

 

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Human rights violations indicate repressive policy of Venezuelan authorities – UN report

Extensive human rights violations and abuses have been committed in the wake of anti-Government protests in Venezuela and point to “the existence of a policy to repress political dissent and instill fear in the population to curb demonstrations,” a report by the United Nations human rights office has found.

“The policies pursued by the authorities in their response to the protests have been at the cost of Venezuelans' rights and freedoms,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a news release issued today.

The report notes that the generalized and systematic use of excessive force during demonstrations and the arbitrary detention of protestors and perceived political opponents indicate that these were not the acts of isolated officials.

The report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to consider taking measures to prevent the human rights situation in Venezuela from worsening. Venezuela is currently a Council member.

Mass street demonstrations began in the country in April. Tensions between the Government and the opposition reached a new high about a month ago, when President Nicolás Maduro convened elections for the so-called Constituent Assembly, which could replace the current legislative body, the National Assembly.

The report indicates that of the 124 deaths linked to the protests being investigated by the Attorney General's Office as of 31 July, the security forces were reportedly responsible for 46 and pro-Government armed groups, known as armed colectivos, for 27. Responsibility for the remaining 51 deaths has not yet been determined.

[ read the full story ]


 Quick Facts form the Report:

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UN rights chief expresses concern over Venezuela ban on Attorney General from leaving the country

30 June 2017 – Amid the ongoing violence in Venezuela, the United Nations human rights office today expressed concern about a decision by the Supreme Court to null the appointment of the Attorney General, freeze her assets and ban her from leaving the country.

“We are concerned that the Supreme Court’s decisions appear to seek to strip her Office of its mandate and responsibilities as enshrined in the Venezuelan Constitution, and undermine the Office’s independence,” 

Rupert Colville
spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Venezuelan Supreme Court on 28 June decided to begin removal proceedings against Attorney General Luisa Ortega, freeze her assets and ban her from leaving the country. It also transferred some of the Attorney General’s, until now, exclusive functions to the Ombudsperson.

UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors stipulate that governments should ensure that prosecutors can do their jobs without intimidation, harassment or improper interference, among other things.

[read the full story] | [en español ]


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Ban urges all parties in Venezuela to reduce polarization and engage sincerely in dialogue process

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the Vatican’s joining of the ongoing initiative by former Heads of State and Government to promote dialogue between the Government of Venezuela and the country’s political opposition, under the auspices of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban also called on all national actors to take tangible measures to reduce polarization and to engage sincerely in the dialogue process.

Underscoring the importance of adhering to the rule of law and the Constitution and ensuring respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, the UN chief further called on all Venezuelans, regardless of their political perspective, to exercise those rights responsibly.

“Above all,” noted the statement, “the Secretary-General reiterates his strong conviction that the Government and the opposition should make concerted efforts to focus on the country’s current challenges, including to effectively address the socio-economic needs of the country, for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.”

In the statement, the Secretary-General also welcomed the expressions of support for the UNASUR initiative from the international community.

 

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UN rights chief 'deeply concerned' by detention of Venezuela opposition leaders

The top United Nations human rights official today expressed deep concern about the detention of two opposition leaders by Venezuelan authorities after Sunday's elections for a Constituent Assembly convened by President Nicolás Maduro.

[testimonial author="Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein" title="UN High Commissioner for Human Rights" icon="icon" ] “I am deeply concerned that opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma have again been taken into custody by Venezuelan authorities after their house arrest was revoked,” [/testimonial]

He urged the Government to immediately release all those being held for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, noting that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers the detention of both Lopez and Ledezma to be arbitrary. (OHCHR)

President Maduro has declared victory in Sunday's elections for the new body, which could replace the current National Assembly.

read the full story

 


 

 

  • Full Statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights :

    GENEVA (1 August 2017) – “I am deeply concerned that opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma have again been taken into custody by Venezuelan authorities after their house arrest was revoked. I urge the Government to immediately release all those being held for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression.

    I also regret that at least 10 people reportedly died in Venezuela over the weekend amid demonstrations over the Constituent Assembly elections. The investigations into these deaths must be carried out in a prompt, effective and independent manner, with the full cooperation of the Government.

    I urge the authorities not to make an already extremely volatile situation even worse through the use of excessive force, including through violent house raids by security forces that have occurred in various parts of the country.

    I appeal to all parties to refrain from the use of violence.”

    The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers the detention of both Lopez and Ledezma to be arbitrary. The opinions of the Working Group on these cases can be found here:

    Lopez: http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=A/HRC/WGAD/2014/26&Lang=E;

    Ledezma: http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=A/HRC/WGAD/2015/27&Lang=E

    en español if es 4616


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Contact

Email: unic.portofspain@unic.org 

Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813

Fax: 1 (868) 623 4332 

Address: 

2nd Floor Bretton Hall, 16 Victoria Avenue, 

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

 

 

 

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