Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on December 5, 2019 that Brazil’s refugee agency, CONARE, granted refugee status to 21,432 Venezuelans.
Until then, CONARE had only granted asylum to 263 Venezuelans, and according to HRW, 224,000 Venezuelans are living in Brazil.
In June 2019, CONARE concluded that “there are serious and extended human rights violations” in Venezuela, paving the way for the mass recognition of refugee status under the 1984 Cartagena Declaration.
The document establishes guidelines for Latin American governments on refugee protection.
CONARE based its June evaluation on a 25-page technical report that cited the work of HRW 30 times.
The report made reference to an HRW investigation that showed compelling evidence of serious violations perpetrated by the Nicolás Maduro regime, such as excessive use of force against journalists and protesters, arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment of detainees and cases involving torture, in addition to the undermining of judiciary independence in the country.
The HRW report on the collapse of Venezuela’s health system and a disproportionate increase in treatable diseases also influenced this outcome.
The Brazilian government’s historic decision, considered a “milestone in refugee protection” by the U.N. Refugee Agency, recognizes the rights and dignity that so many Venezuelans are seeking in Brazil, HRW said.
The humanitarian agency also urged CONARE to make a decision on the cases of 98,000 other Venezuelans whose requests for asylum are still pending, and called on other countries in the region to follow Brazil’s example in providing legal protection to Venezuelan refugees.