• الحملات

Venezuela: fear for safety/Fear of refoulement:

, رقم الوثيقة: AMR 53/006/1999

Some 700 Colombian refugees, who fled paramilitary killings and death threats, are reportedly about to be forcibly returned from Venezuela. A Venezuelan army general has apparently told journalists that their return to Colombia is "imminent" ("inminente"), possibly through the Venezuelan border town of Puerto Santander. There are serious fears for their safety.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 53/06/99
EXTRA 80/99 Fear for safety/Fear of refoulement 1 July 1999
VENEZUELASome 700 Colombian refugees
Some 700 Colombian refugees, who fled paramilitary killings and death threats,
are reportedly about to be forcibly returned from Venezuela. A Venezuelan army
general has apparently told journalists that their return to Colombia is
“imminent” (“inminente”), possibly through the Venezuelan border town of Puerto
Santander. There are serious fears for their safety.
At the end of May 1999 a 400-strong Colombian paramilitary force surrounded
the rural district of La Gabarra, Norte de Santander department, near the border
with Venezuela. The paramilitaries reportedly killed at least five local peasant
farmers, threatened to attack the community and refused to let the inhabitants
leave. The paramilitaries warned others, whom they detained and then released,
that they were going to take control of the district and execute those they
considered to be guerrilla sympathizers or collaborators. On 1 June a Colombian
local ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) reported that the paramilitaries had
killed up to 20 people and abducted a further 15 (see UA 125/99, AI Index AMR
23/44/99, 2 June 1999). The paramilitary incursion was followed by clashes
in the area between Colombian security forces and guerrillas, which are
continuing.
Since the start of the offensive by Colombian paramilitaries and security
forces, some 3700 Colombian men, women and children have fled across the border
into Venezuela, in four separate waves. Those who crossed in the first three
waves - some 3000 - have already been returned to a part of Colombia where
they are not in immediate danger. Most apparently returned voluntarily. However,
Amnesty International has learned that at least 100 were forcibly returned
after having sought assistance from independent human rights defenders to
formally request asylum in Venezuela. Another 300 were reportedly returned
without having their situation assessed in a full and fair asylum procedure.
The remaining 700 refugees are currently held in a Venezuelan military post
near La Vaquera, municipality of Jesús María Semprum, in the state of Zulia.
They have apparently been denied access to human rights defenders and
journalists. Amnesty International does not know whether they have had access
to representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Under the principle of non-refoulement Venezuela is obliged to ensure that
no person is returned, directly or indirectly, to a country where they would
face serious human rights violations. Implicit in this obligation is the
necessity to establish and ensure access to a satisfactory asylum procedure
to identify those at risk. Such a procedure must include access to the UNHCR
and provisions for an effective appeal against rejection of an asylum claim,
whereby the asylum-seeker is allowed to stay in the country for the duration
of the appeal.
The principle of non-refoulement is recognised by the international community
as a norm of customary international law binding on all States.
Furthermore, Venezuela, together with other members of the Organization of
American States (OAS) proposed the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees,
and should therefore apply the broader definition of a “refugee” enshrined
2
in Article 3 of this Declaration. This Article recommends that those who have
fled their country because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened
by, among other things, generalized violence, internal conflicts, or massive
human rights violations, should be afforded refugee status.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern that some 700 Colombians, who fled from political violence
in their country and sought protection in Venezuela during the last week of
June 1999, are reportedly on the point of being forcibly returned to Colombia
without having their situation assessed in a full and fair asylum procedure;
- calling on the Venezuelan authorities to ensure that under no circumstances
will the Colombians be removed from Venezuela until their refugee status has
been assessed through a full and fair asylum procedure;
- urging the Venezuelan authorities to take the definition of “refugees”
contained in the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees into consideration
when assessing the situation of the Colombian refugees.
APPEALS TO:
Ministry of Interior Affairs
Dr. Ignacio Luis Arcaya
Ministro de Relaciones Interiores
Carmelitas a Santa Capilla
Caracas
Venezuela
Telegrams:Ministerio Interior, Caracas, Venezuela
Fax: + 58 2 861 0363
Telex: 29694 MRI
Salutation:Dear Minister/Estimado Ministro
Ministry of National Defence
General Raúl Salazar
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Fuerte Tiuna, Conejo Blanco
El Valle
Caracas
Venezuela
Telegrams:Ministerio Defensa, Caracas, Venezuela
Fax: + 58 2 662 5542 / 662 4078
Salutation:Dear Minister/Estimado Ministro
COPIES TO:
Human rights organization
PROVEA
Apartado Postal 5156
Caracas
Venezuela
and to diplomatic representatives of Venezuela accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 12 August 1999.

اختر لغة لاستعراض التقرير