WILLEMSTAD – The government of Curaçao has taken note of the motion that the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament has passed on Tuesday regarding the deportation of refugees in Curaçao. Under normal circumstances, the government does not respond to motions from the Second Chamber, since these are addressed to the Dutch government. For Curaçao, however, they are anything but normal due to the crisis in Venezuela and the far-reaching consequences for our island. This special situation has led the government, as a very exceptional case, to discuss the content and scope of the motion of the Dutch parliament because of the need for an integrated approach to the crisis in the kingdom.
The government welcomes the attention of the Second Chamber to the crisis in our neighboring country and the serious consequences this has for the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom. Both the crisis itself with the complex geopolitical complications, and the serious impact that the crisis has on the islands in various ways, require a kingdom-wide approach. But according to the government of Curaçao it is regrettable that the motion was adopted on the basis of a factually incorrect observation.
In the motion, which was adopted by a large majority, the House of Representatives asked the Dutch government to insist that the Curaçao government always carry out an individual review in accordance with international regulations before persons requesting protection were sent back to Venezuela. The government of Curaçao agrees that this is important, and therefore emphasizes that such an individual review is already part of the Curaçao application for protection under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). With the help of Dutch services such as the IND, much attention has been paid to this procedure recently.
It is regrettable, however, that the Second Chamber in the recitals mentioned in the motion completely erroneously finds that Curaçao has deported refugees recognized by the UNHCR. The government emphasizes that this is an incorrect representation, which has not been detected by international organizations, as the motion has incorrectly stated. Curaçao has not returned any persons who have been recognized as refugees from UNHCR to Venezuela and is not planning to do so. Indeed, for some of the persons with official status of refugees recognized by UNHCR, interviews are now taking place with countries to which these already recognized refugees could be permanently relocated.
Apparently, the Second Chamber is not fully aware of the precise situation as it occurs in Curaçao, nor of the procedures that apply in our country. This is unfortunate in view of the required Kingdom-wide attention to the crisis and its far-reaching consequences. In addition to the migration of thousands of Venezuelans to the island, often illegally by boat, Curaçao also has serious social and economic consequences for the refinery, the port, tourism and trade.
Parliamentarians from the United States appear to be familiar in detail with the situation in Curaçao and the challenges facing our island. This became clear during Prime Minister Rhuggenaath’s working visit to Washington DC at the beginning of this week, where he spoke among other things to some Congressmen. Recently, seven members of the American Congress also visited Curaçao to delve into the effects of the Venezuelan crisis on the island when they were on their way to the border with Colombia to see the consequences of the exodus of millions of Venezuelans there as well. During the working visit to Washington, Prime Minister Rhuggenaath was greatly appreciated by Congressmen and by US government representatives, including Special Venezuela Envoy Elliott Abrams and Under Secretary of State David Hale, for Curaçao’s role and the major problems that Curaçao faces as a result of the crisis.
The Government of Curaçao wants to work towards an integral and in-depth attention within the kingdom for the particularly complex situation with which the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom are confronted. During the recent consultation between Minister Blok of Foreign Affairs and the prime ministers of Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten, a start was made on this, as well as during the recent visits by Minister Ollongren of the Interior and Undersecretary Knops of Kingdom Relations and Minister Grapperhaus and Undersecretary Harbers of Justice and Security.