Several human rights NGOs have rejected the statements by Minister of National Security Stuart Young, in which he said the Venezuelans who took refuge with the UN High Commission for Refugees are not covered by the laws of this country.
Refugee Community Network T&T, the Caribbean Refugees' Voices, Gift to the World, Adventure with a Purpose, the International Parliament of Human Rights (PDIH) and Fundación Uniendo Voluntades issued a press release urging “the authorities of TT to work together in accordance with the provisions of the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, ”
Young appeared on the i95.5 FM radio programme Eye on Dependency on August 2, and stressed that “the UNHCR card is not an automatic right to domestic law. The government cannot recognise this card as such and that is why the registration for work permits was carried out in 2019.”.
The NGOs rejected this, saying an "irregular situation has been generated in which a large number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants are now victims of acts of persecution, xenophobia and a public and evident violation of the human rights of these people."
They also said Young's statements represent a clear break with the international treaties and agreements signed by TT such as the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol and international law.
“Considering that when a country is a signatory to a human rights convention or international treaty, as well as acquiring benefits, it also has obligations as a party to those conventions, our organisations, which work for the defence of human rights, consider recent declarations made by Stuart Young, as 'binding' and very alarming, as well as inciting hatred and violence,” they said.
The letter adds that these actions have left the Venezuelan community in a state of defencelessness and vulnerability and exposed to abuses by the same institutions that have the power to maintain public order and protect national and foreign citizens living in this country, and not the persecution of human beings hunted like animals.
"The statements have undoubtedly aroused even more feelings of xenophobia among the national population, have prompted dismissals, forced evictions and raids, abuses, arbitrary detentions and massive illegal deportations masquerading as repatriations.
"We also see with astonishment the indiscriminate way of using the migration of Venezuelans, which has become the banner of the political campaign during the current general elections in this country," they said.
For this reason, the NGOs urged the government to to comply with the international conventions and agreements it has signed, as well as to work with the national office of the UNHCR to assure respect for the human rights of refugees.