Jan 28, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Organization of American States (OAS), the world’s oldest regional body, yesterday called for the prompt release of the Guyanese fishermen and fishing vessels by the Nicolas Maduro administration of Venezuela, whose military illegally abducted them last Thursday, January 21, 2021. It also registered its support for the ongoing litigation at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as the appropriate solution to the controversy.
In its condemnation of Venezuela’s action, the OAS reinforced its support for Guyana’s position in the controversy against Venezuela, noting that the fishing crew and vessels were located in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The first two vessels, Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf, had been operating just off the coast at Waini Point, at a position of N 80 49’ 06”/ w 590 37’ 40” W, where they were intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy Vessel, Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, and ordered to navigate their way to Port Guiria to be held.
Guyana quickly notified its citizens that it is using all diplomatic channels to ensure the safe return of the crew.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, has promised to pursue early release of the crew. Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, participated in virtual dialogue with Arreaza on Tuesday during which he was assured by Arreaza that the crewmembers were being treated with respect for their human rights.
“The Foreign Ministers exchanged views within the context of the detention of the vessels and crew,” a statement from Guyana’s ministry announced.
Todd had on Monday summoned the Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Venezuela, Mr. Moses Chavez, to have him deliver Guyana’s note of protest to Maduro’s foreign ministry for its actions, condemning the illegal detention. Guyana’s Minister reportedly noted that Venezuela’s actions are distasteful, and provided that based on latitude and longitude, the vessels were within Guyana’s territory.
Venezuela rejected Guyana’s calls for the fishing crew’s release, and threatened further action against other Guyanese found in Essequibo waters.
Venezuela arrested the vessels in keeping with a presidential decree made by its President, Nicolas Maduro, on January 7, vowing to “reconquer” the Essequibo region.
Maduro’s decree was accompanied by Venezuela’s national assembly making a unanimous decree by all political factions to fight for the region, and the establishment of a ‘Special Commission for the Defence of the Guayana Esequiba Territory and Territorial Sovereignty.’
Commenting further on the controversy, the OAS said, “General Secretariat reiterates its support for the rules and processes set by international law regarding ongoing territorial conflicts. The resolution of the territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana is a matter that lies under international jurisdiction, and cannot be settled by unilateral actions. Any attempt to derail this international legal process, such as the decree issued by the Maduro regime, is contrary to international law and standards, and has no legal bearing or significance.”
Maduro had alongside his presidential decree, written the United Nations asking it to advocate for an alternative solution to the ongoing litigation at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The Court, in December, delivered a judgement stating that it has jurisdiction to hear a matter in a border case Guyana filed against neighbouring Venezuela. The judgement states that the UN Secretary-General may choose a means of settlement under Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, which includes judicial settlement.
Venezuela had long held that it would prefer direct negotiations and that it rejects the jurisdiction of the ICJ to settle this matter once and for all.
The United States and Canada have both spoken out in support of the ICJ case as the solution to the controversy. Venezuela has become increasingly isolated in its bid to grab Guyana’s territory.
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