CIOG calls for release of Guyanese fishermen from Venezuela
– says Venezuela in violation of international human rights
With Venezuela currently illegally detaining two Guyanese fishing vessels and their 12-man crew, a number of organisations have made calls for their release. The latest to make such a call is the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG).
In a statement it issued on Monday, the CIOG called on Venezuela to immediately release the fishermen, who are presently being kept captive on their boats in the Venezuelan port of Guiria, as well as their vessels and catch.
In their statement, the CIOG noted that such actions violate international law. Additionally, it was pointed out by CIOG that Venezuela’s recklessness has a humanitarian aspect, which cuts to the heart of whether these fishermen will be able to sustain their livelihoods.
“The arrest of the twelve fishermen represents thus far a reckless action undertaken by Caracas threatening Guyana’s sovereignty and hindering economic activity of innocent civilians of Guyana. These fishermen should not be made collateral damage or used as scapegoats by the Maduro regime.”
“The action taken by Caracas is a violation of international human rights law, regarding the right to livelihood and the prohibition on arbitrary arrest and detention. The CIOG, therefore, echoes its demand for the release of the 12 fishermen, their catch, and their boats. Guyana is a peaceful country where all are welcomed including citizens of Venezuela,” CIOG also said.
Moreover, CIOG noted that should Venezuela release the fishermen and their property, it will be viewed as a positive gesture and can be used as a basis to resume dialogue between the two countries.
“The Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) stands firmly behind the Government of Guyana in ensuring the preservation of our territorial integrity and sovereignty,” CIOG said in its statement.
On January 21, two Guyanese-registered fishing vessels and a 12-man crew that were operating off the coast of Waini Point in Guyana’s EEZ were intercepted by the Venezuelan naval vessel, Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, which was illegally traversing Guyana’s waters.
The Venezuelans boarded the vessels and the captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria where they were detained and are being kept to this day. The men have since been brought before a Venezuelan court and reports indicate they will be kept in custody for some 45 days pending an investigation.
Since then, however, a number of countries have condemned Venezuela’s actions and urged the Spanish-speaking country to release the fishermen. Last week, the OAS Permanent Council met to discuss, among other things, the tensions between Guyana and Venezuela.
During the Permanent Council’s virtual meeting, Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the OAS Riyad Insanally informed the Council about the recent actions of Venezuela. A number of countries on the Council took a firm stance against Venezuela, including the US, Canada, Trinidad, Brazil, Antigua and Barbuda and Belize.
The Permanent Council is one of the two main political bodies of the OAS, the other being the General Assembly. The Permanent Council keeps vigilance over the maintenance of friendly relations among the member states and, for that purpose, effectively assists them in the peaceful settlement of their disputes.