Court rules: Curaçao must release Venezuelans after unlawful detention

Ten Venezuelan refugees have been unlawfully imprisoned and detained under a stricter regime than regular prisoners. The four women and six men filed proceedings against the Curaçao government with the help of Human Rights Defense Curaçao (HRDC). The judge ruled in their favour on 14 July 2022.

The women had already been released before the proceedings were heard. The judge has now ruled that the men too must be released immediately. Before giving the verdict, the judge herself visited the SDKK prison. The Venezuelans spend 18 hours a day here in cramped and dark cells together with convicted prisoners, with no meaningful daytime activities and few recreational opportunities.

Due to the dire political and economic situation in Venezuela, millions of people have left their home country in recent years. On Curaçao, most are forced to live as undocumented migrants. Those who apply for protection, or who are arrested by the authorities, are imprisoned. So far no one has received protection in Curaçao.

How do we work together?

The Dutch Council for Refugees has been working together with Human Rights Defense Curaçao (HRDC) since 2019. We support and train HRDC staff and lawyers so they are better equipped to support and advise refugees. We also provide financial and other support, in areas such as organisational development and lobbying. Together we are committed to humane reception and access to a fair procedure – a joint responsibility of Curaçao and the Netherlands.

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