Venezuela

No Data

Immigration detainees

No Data

Detained children

67,289

Refugees

2018

1,375,690

International migrants

2019

28,400,000

Population

2020

Overview

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

12 August 2020

Venezuelan Migrants Stuck at the Colombian Border, (Stefano Pozzebon,
Venezuelan Migrants Stuck at the Colombian Border, (Stefano Pozzebon, "Venezuelan Migrants Fleeing Covid-19 Get Stuck at Border," CNN, accessed on 10 August 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/07/13/venezuela-migrants-covid19-stuck-border-colombia-pozzebon-pkg-vpx.cnn)

During the four-year period 2016-2019, more than 4.6 million men, women, and children fled or otherwise departed Venezuela because of burgeoning political and economic crises. According to the UNHCR, some 4,000 and 5,000 Venezuelan nationals were leaving the country every day, mainly travelling on foot to neighbouring countries like Colombia, Peru, or Ecuador; thousands of others have made their way to the United States or Europe.

The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has spurred new migration trends as thousands of Venezuelans have sought to return home as economic opportunities in their host countries have dried up. This has led to new human rights challenges across much of the region and overseas--including increasing vulnerability to detention and other enforcement actions--which have been severely complicated by Covid-19 border closures and travel restrictions, as well as growing regional political tensions.

A report from the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), titled "The Struggles of Stranded, Returning and Newly Departing Venezuelans During the Global Pandemic," underscores the international scope of the struggles Venezuelans now face. According to this report, written by the Venezuelan journalist Silvina Acosta, while Venezuela has enabled foreign governments to arrange repatriation flights of their citizens out of Venezuela, the Maduro government has stymied the return of its own citizens, leaving "thousands of Venezuelan migrants and tourists stranded in other countries and subject to COVID-19 quarantines."

In this special Covid-19 update, the GDP summarizes key developments in various neighboring Latin American countries:

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO. As part of their response to Covid-19, the government of Trinidad and Tobago implemented a series of confinement measures as well as financial and economic measures. However, most Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the country--who numbered approximately 40,000 by 2018--do not benefit from these measures and are only entitled to primary health care (see 9 May Trinidad and Tobago update on this platform). Instead, officials in the country, which began a concerted crackdown on Venezuelas long before the Covid crisis began, have used the crisis to increase pressure on these people. Citing the restrictive policies pushed by U.S. President Donald Trump, the country’s national security minister said in July that Trinidad and Tobago needs to ramp up deportations and to “operate in the same manner as the United States.” In a press conference on 25 July, the minister claimed that “illegal immigrants,” “boat people,” and those that “trafficked them” present health risks and issued a hotline number for people to make reports. On 27 July, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service circulated fliers on Facebook stating that “illegal immigration” could cause a “new wave of Covid-19” and called people to report “suspicious activity.” On 28 July, 167 Venezuelan nationals were deported from Trinidad and Tobago after having completed a compulsory quarantine period, as requested by the Venezuelan government.

COLOMBIA. According to the August CMS story cited above, "The number of returning Venezuelan migrants has now reached 80,000 people, including 45,900 migrants between April and May, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Colombia Migration reports that 'more than 90,000 Venezuelan migrants in Colombia have returned voluntarily to Venezuela since the beginning of the quarantine declared in Colombia in March.' Around 76 percent of the 90,000 returnees crossed the border through the main border cross point (the Simón Bolívar International Bridge), in the department of Norte de Santander (northeast). The majority of the 1,200 buses with Venezuelan returnees arrived at the Norte of Santander. Others went to the checkpoints in Arauca (east) and La Guajira (northeast)."

In June, Al Jazeera reported that some 500 Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, who had been left jobless and homeless during the pandemic, had built a makeshift camp in the outskirts of Bogota. Most were trying to return home, but the Venezuelan government had limited the number of returnees, causing bottlenecks along the route. The camp had no running water or electricity and people were surviving on the charity handouts (see 13 July Colombia update on this platform). Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro wildly called these Venezuelan citizens “biological weapons” and accused Colombia and other governments of infecting them with Covid-19 to spread the pandemic across Venezuela. Colombia strongly rejected these accusations, calling them deplorable. UNHCR reported that Venezuela had limited the entry of its own nationals through the Colombian border to 100 people per return day via the Arauca border crossing and 300 per return day in Cucuta. At the time, the humanitarian corridor to Venezuela was open three days a week.

PERU. Approximately 830,000 Venezuelans are currently residing in Peru and are particularly at risk from Covid-19 due to several factors, including inadequate access to health and social services as well as loss of employment (see 26 June Peru update on this platform). The World Bank reported, prior to the onset of the pandemic, that “negative attitudes toward the Venezuelan population are more prevalent in Peru than in other recipient countries, and they are likely to increase.”

ECUADOR. Anti-Venezuelan sentiment has also been growing in Ecuador, where at least 330,000 Venezuelans were residing at the end of 2016. As a result of the pandemic, many Venezuelan migrants have lost their employment and have attempted to return home. Despite the closed border, according to the Ecuadorian Red Cross, up to 700 are departing every day. According to the Health Ministry, as of 20 April, 22 Venezuelans in Ecuador had tested positive for the virus, but most believe this to be an under-estimate (see 20 May Ecuador update on this platform).

CHILE. In Chile, which hosts the third largest population of Venezuelans (roughly 450,000), some 4,000 Venezuelans have sought to return to their country. Many have been accommodated by the Chilean government in temporary hostels after weeks of waiting at the door of their embassy. A Venezuelan national died on 2 June while waiting for his test results (see 28 July Chile update on this platform).

PANAMA. According to Response for Venezuelans (R4V), as of February 2020, there were 94,600 Venezuelan migrants in Panama. Wendy Mow of HIAS (Hebrew and Immigrant Aid Society) said that it is likely that the number of Venezuelans in Panama is much higher: 150,000, owing to the large number who enter the country without documentation. R4V estimates that only about 75,000 Venezuelans in Panama have legal residency status. In June, Voice of America reported that at least 387 are requesting a repatriation flight to Venezuela. On 9 June, Reuters reported that Panama had confined some 200 migrants in a camp in the jungle in the Darién region to contain a new Covid-19 outbreak. As previously reported (see 9 June Panama update on this platform), many migrants have been left stranded in Panama at the borders with Colombia and Costa Rica, and while the GDP has been unable to confirm whether any Venezuelan nationals are among those stranded, it is likely that many are.

GUAYANA. Located immediately to the east of Venezuela, with which it shares a lengthy border, Guyana has been an important destination for people fleeing the country. In 2019, the International Crisis Group reported that there were more than 36,000 Venezuelan nationals in Guyana. The aid group Response for Venezuelans (R4V) reports that the Government of Guyana maintained a commendable open door policy to Venezuelans, and introduced a digitalised system for biometric registration and documentation of new arrivals. According to a May 2020 report by R4V, by the end of March, the Government of Guyana had conducted biometric registration and documentation for 2,090 refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Temporary accommodation and emergency shelter were also provided to 34 highly vulnerable people, including 32 Venezuelan migrants.

Prior to border closures brought on by Covid-19, Immigration Officers issued a “Household Registration Certificate” to Venezuelan nationals upon entry to the country, which includes a provision against forced return and a renewable three-month stay permit. Nevertheless, the pandemic has increased the vulnerability of Venezuelans in the country, especially with respect to health and economic opportunities. They face a lack of access to formal employment and livelihood opportunities as well as language barriers (English is the official language of Guyana), hindering their access to basic services such as health care and education. Many Venezuelans have reportedly begun seeking to return to their country as the crisis continues.

PARAGUAY. According to UNHCR, there are some 3,588 displaced Venezuelans currently living in the country (see 10 July Paraguay update on this platform). It is unclear to what extent these people face restrictions or other pressures as a result of their status or because of the Covid-19 crisis. However, UNHCR reports that it has continued to provide basic services to this population.


Last updated:

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS

Number of deportations/forced returns only
35
2019
180
2018
270
2017
Criminal prison population
54,738
2016
48,262
2012
24,069
2008
19,853
2005
19,368
2002
22,914
1999
22,791
1996
23,200
1993
Percentage of foreign prisoners
2.3
2016
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
173
2016
161
2012
85
2008
74
2005
76
2002
95
1999
101
1996
109
1993
Population
28,400,000
2020
31,108,000
2015
International migrants
1,375,690
2019
1,404,400
2015
International migrants as a percentage of the population
4.5
2015
Refugees
67,289
2018
122,810
2017
172,017
2016
174,191
2015
173,600
2014
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
5.46
2016
5.66
2014
Total number of new asylum applications
2,886
2016
1,073
2014
Refugee recognition rate
23.2
2014
Stateless persons
0
2016
0
2015
Total number of immigration detainees by year
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
Top nationalities of detainees
Number of persons granted alternatives to immigration detention
Number of detained asylum seekers
Total number of detained minors
Number of detained unaccompanied minors
Number of detained accompanied minors
Number of detained stateless persons
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
Number of immigration offices
Number of transit facilities
Number of criminal facilities
Number of ad hoc facilities
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
Estimated number of undocumented migrants

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
12,771
2012
Remittances to the country
121
2014
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
40.6
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
71 (High)
2015
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
77
2007
Remittances from the country
Unemployment rate amongst migrants
Detention for deterrence
Immigration Index Score
World Bank Rule of Law Index
Domestic Opinion Polls on Immigration

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Civil law
2017
Constitutional guarantees?
Yes (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Article 44) 1999
1999
Core pieces of national legislation
Aliens and Migration Law of 2004 (Ley de Extranjeria y Migracion N°37.944 de 24 de Mayo 2004) (2004)
2004
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Regulation of the Aliens and Migration Law of August 2004 (Reglamento de la Ley de Migracion y Extranjeria, Dercreto N°3.041 de 3 de Agosto de 2004) (2004)
2004
Immigration-status-related grounds
None
2004
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
No (No)
2020
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
Yes
Types of non-custodial measures
Supervised release and/or reporting (Yes)
2004
Designated regional residence (Yes)
2004
Designated non-secure housing (Yes)
2004
Additional legislation
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention.
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
Average length of detention
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
Provision of basic procedural standards
Impact of alternatives
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Mandatory detention
Expedited/fast track removal
Re-entry ban

INTERNATIONAL LAW

International treaty reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
ICCPR Article 14 1978
1978
1978
Individual complaints procedure
Acceptance Year
ICERD, declaration under article 14 of the Convention 2003
2003
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2002
2002
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention 1994
1994
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 1978
1978
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Observation Date
4/7
4/7
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Recommendation Year
Committee against Torture

§11 e)      Renforcer la formation à la Convention et au Protocole d’Istanbul non seulement à l’intention des médecins légistes mais aussi du personnel médical, des policiers, des procureurs, du personnel pénitentiaire et des agents de l’immigration qui s’occupent des enquêtes ou du traitement des détenus.

2014
2014
Regional legal instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
IACPPT, Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture 1991
1991
CBDP, Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belem do Para) 1995
1995
IACFDP, Inter-American convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons 1998
1998
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Year of Visit
Observation Date
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 1996
1996
2015
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2016
2017
No 2012
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Treaty bodies decisions on individual complaints
Regional treaty reservations
Regional judicial decisions on individual complaints
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Custodial authority
Apprehending authorities
Detention Facility Management
Formally designated detention estate?
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Authorized monitoring institutions
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Does NHRI carry out visits?
Does NHRI have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NHRI publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits?
Does NPM have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Do NGOs carry out visits?
NGO capacity to receive complaints?
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits?
Do parliamentary organs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?
Do internal inspection agencies (IIAs) carry out visits?
Do IIAs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do IIAs publicly report their findings from detention inspections?
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities?
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Types of privatisation/outsourcing
Detention contractors and other non-state entities
Estimated annual budget for detention operations
Estimated annual budgets for particular detention-related activities
Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD)
Estimated annual budget for non-custodial measures (in USD)
Estimated costs of non-custodial measures (in USD)
Does the country receive external sources of funding?
Description of foreign assistance