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Venezuela examined before the Migrant Workers Committee

Venezuela’s First Periodic Review before the CMW, Geneva, September 2022.

From September 19 to 21, 2022, the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (hereinafter, the CMW), carried out the review of Venezuela’s first periodic report concerning the compliance with the obligations contracted under the treaty in this matter.

The Government went to Geneva with a 27-member delegation, including representatives of the five branches, highlighting the absence of separation of powers, although the Government introduced it as a sign of cooperation between them.

Of the six alternative reports submitted by civil society organizations, only two come from independent organizations, one from Cepaz and the other from a coalition made up of the Human Rights Center of the Andrés Bello Catholic University (CDH-UCAB, in Spanish), Radio Fe y Alegría Noticias, and the Network for the Human Rights of children and adolescents (Redhnna, in Spanish).The remaining four were presented by organizations that correspond to the category of GONGO[1].

GONGO reports focus little or nothing on Venezuela’s international commitments in relation to the Migrant Workers Convention. Their entire stance focused on making an inventory of the laws (albeit unfulfilled) on the matter and trying to justify the lack of attention to the rights of the population in Venezuela because of the unilateral coercive measures. They are reports without critical analysis, which reproduce the government’s discourse.

On the other hand, CEPAZ directed its attention on the differentiated affectation of migrant women, including gender-based violence, human trafficking and illicit human trafficking. Meanwhile, the report presented by the coalition analyzes with data the breach of Venezuela’s obligations with respect to the Migrant Workers Convention, in areas such as the measures adopted to support those who have left the country, the situation of returnees, the absence of consular assistance and difficulties in obtaining apostilles and passports, and the situation of human trafficking and smuggling. In addition, it is the first report that denounces before a UN treaty body the impunity in relation to the massive expulsion of Colombians by the government of Nicolás Maduro.

It is noteworthy that the issue of human trafficking and smuggling was present in most of the reports, regardless of whether or not they were close to the government, which is an indicator of the seriousness of these phenomena in Venezuela.

The CMW had to insist on several occasions on questions about specific data, which were not provided by the abundant delegation, with which the recurrent lack of access to public information and the opacity in handling figures once again manifested itself. This time, on issues such as the number of Venezuelans with the right to vote abroad, the number of people who have left the country, the number of recognized refugees, among others. Within the official delegation itself, there were discrepancies in the few figures exposed.

Moreover, whenever possible, the official delegation invoked the issue of unilateral coercive measures to justify its failures and victimize itself in the face of acute questions from the Committee’s experts.

Once again, the CMW was a space to discuss human rights issues whose treatment is practically impossible in Venezuela, considering the government’s lack of openness to holding debates about its policies with independent civil society organizations. These forums continue to be a valuable advocacy space, aiming to exert pressure on the Venezuelan government to meet its international commitments. The conclusions and recommendations of the CMW will be announced in mid-October and will be an important input to assessing the political will of the State in this matter.

[1] It means “government-organized non-governmental organization” and applies to organizations that are created or financed by governments to echo official political agendas.