Boulder, Colorado October 4, 2018 - Members of the organization, the Working Group on Human Mobility Venezuela alerted the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights about the ongoing situation of vulnerability and risk faced by migrants and refugees from Venezuela, with emphasis on groups that are particularly affected.
“Among the main deficiencies we have identified is the lack of identity documents that prevent access to rights, pregnant women with high levels of malnutrition, an increasing number of unaccompanied children, high vulnerability to human trafficking, xenophobia, violations of the right to life, risks of statelessness, among others. In the same way, we have placed emphasis on the groups of migrants and refugees in which multiple factors of discrimination, such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, among others, converge in an intersectional manner, increase levels of vulnerability and affect the enjoyment and exercise of human rights by these sectors of the migrant and refugee population”, said Eduardo Trujillo, Director of the Human Rights Center of the Andrés Bello Catholic University.
According to the latest report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM, September 2018), 2.6 million Venezuelan people have emigrated from Venezuela in the last two years. This month of October 2018, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 346,584 Venezuelan people had requested asylum, and 845,021 sought alternative ways to stay throughout the American continent and Spain. So far in 2018, the number of asylum applications has already reached 186,827, compared to 113,438 the previous year.
Si bien las altas cifras reflejan la crisis política y económica del país, no rinden cuenta de las situaciones de precariedad enfrentadas por muchas de estas personas al intentar salir de Venezuela. En particular, durante la audiencia, se señaló que las personas migrantes y refugiadas, son especialmente vulnerables a delitos de trata de personas, tráfico ilícito de migrantes, explotación sexual y laboral. Esta vulnerabilidad se potencializa cuando las personas migrantes y refugiadas son mujeres, niñas o niños, poblaciones indígenas o LGBTI+.
Although the high figures reflect the political and economic crisis in the country, they do not account for the precarious situations faced by many of these people when trying to leave Venezuela. In particular, during the hearing, it was pointed out that migrants and refugees are especially vulnerable to the crimes of human trafficking, migrant smuggling, and sexual and labor exploitation. This vulnerability is enhanced when migrants and refugees are women, children, indigenous or LGBTI+.
“The humanitarian emergency and the lack of access to identity documents for many people has obligated, in many cases, Venezuelan citizens to migrate in a forced, as well as undocumented, manner, due to the structural conditions of the country that have given rise to the cited humanitarian emergency. This can lead to opting for clandestine routes, which increases their vulnerability to be a victim of this type of crime,” said Ana María Vidal, Deputy Secretary of the National Coordinator of Human Rights of Peru. “We have requested the Commission to demand from the States, measures of permanent protection and articulated in a regional manner, as well as action protocols for people in especially vulnerable situations. The temporary measures adopted at the moment only increase legal insecurity and hinder the access to rights and the integration of this population”.
Given this situation, more than 50 civil society organizations from all over the region came together on September 18 and 19 in Washington D.C. to affirm the need to offer national and international protection through a joint declaration to the people who are forced to leave Venezuela due to the economic, social and political crisis suffered by the country.
“The Working Group will be presenting its Action Plan to the States of the region in the coming weeks,” indicated Francisco Quintana, Group Coordinator and Director of the Program for the Andean Region, North America and the Caribbean for the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). “We hope that this document serves as a road map to establish clear and concrete actions, with guidelines on the highest standards of protection in terms of the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
At the end of the hearing, a special report was requested, for which an evaluation will be conducted on if the States of the Americas have followed the recommendations issued in the 2/18 Resolution of the IACHR on the “Forced Migration of Venezuelan Persons”, and the joint declaration of the IACHR and distinct agencies of the United Nation, issued on September 5. In addition, the Commissioners were required to convene follow-up groups to evaluate the issues of migration, refugees and asylum, as well as to advance paradigmatic cases and grant precautionary measures to address this situation.