Feb 17, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd on Monday said that the government has joined an international declaration supported by scores of nations, the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations. This follows the recent release of Guyanese fishermen by the Venezuelan government, after they were arrested by a Venezuelan military vessel off the Essequibo Coast which was enforcing claims the Bolivarian Republic has made on Guyana’s territory.
The Government commended the Government of Canada, the nation which launched the initiative, as its Government noted, it would provide particular support for small nations, particularly vulnerable if the practice of arbitrary arrest, detention and sentencing prevails. The initiative has received the support of nearly 60 countries so far.
“The Government of Guyana strongly condemns politically motivated arbitrary arrest, detention and sentencing of foreign nationals and embraces the position that every person, regardless of who they are and where they are, is entitled to the protection of their basic human rights and fundamental freedoms as established in international law. Every State has the responsibility to safeguard these rights, not just for their citizens but for foreign nationals within their jurisdiction.” Government said.
It added that detention of foreign nations has been used as a political tool to coerce or influence another State’s foreign policy, despite the fact that it contravenes international law, the rights of due process and multiple international treaties, including Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 25 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
Guyana’s position is that no foreign citizen should be a pawn of any nation. It urged all nations to end the practice, and has asked the United Nations to pursue the Declaration against Arbitrary Detention in State-To-State Relations within the United Nations Framework.
Further, the Government said that it “endorses Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations under which consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State and to have access to them; to be informed if a national of that State is arrested or committed to prison or to custody pending trial or is detained in any other manner. Consular officers shall also be free to visit and communicate with a detained national, as well as arrange for legal representation.”
Two Guyanese fishing vessels, Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf had been operating just off the coast at Waini Point in January, when they were intercepted by the Venezuela Navy Vessel, Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, and ordered to navigate their way to Port Guiria to be held.
The Venezuelan government had said it ensured the safety and respect for human rights of the crew, but the arrest further strained Guyana-Venezuelan relations amidst litigation at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which Guyana hopes would bring the controversy to an end. Venezuela has rejected the Court’s jurisdiction, and has not participated in the case.
Venezuela released the Guyanese fishermen on February second. However, during the ordeal, Venezuela’s Finance Minister Jorge Arreaza had released a statement, warning against more of what the country called “illegal incursions” in the Essequibo waters.
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