Press Release

IACHR grants precautionary measure in favor of Venezuelan at risk of deportation from Panama

October 24, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures on October 15, 2018 in favor of M.B.B.P., a Venezuelan woman in deportation proceedings in Panama. According to the request received, the beneficiary, who allegedly has HIV, is in a situation of risk to her health, life and personal integrity, since, if returned to the State of Venezuela, she would not have access to adequate medical treatment.

In making this determination, the Commission took into account that, as stated in its Resolution 2/18 on "Forced Migration of Venezuelan Persons," OAS member states "must respect the principle and right of non-refoulement to Venezuelan territory, whether through deportation or expulsion procedures or any other action by the authorities, of Venezuelan persons who would be at risk of persecution or other serious violations of their human rights, including a risk of serious damage to their health or life due to medical conditions, in accordance with the right to non-refoulement.”

The Commission stated that it was not up to it to determine whether the beneficiary would indeed merit refugee status, in accordance with domestic or international law, or whether the competent authorities duly analyzed the set of allegations presented by her legal representatives at the administrative and judicial levels. However, the Commission noted that the information provided by the parties did not show that protective measures had been taken in favor of the beneficiary in the context of the corresponding migration procedures, taking into account her health situation and possibilities of access to medical treatment.

The petitioners' allegations are consistent with the information received by the IACHR regarding difficulties in access to ongoing medical treatment and the provision of anti-retrovirals for people with HIV in Venezuela. Although domestic remedies were allegedly filed to prevent deportation, the Commission found that it had no information to prove that these remedies would suspend deportation. Likewise, even if it had the effect of suspension, if the appeals were dismissed, the beneficiary would be deported imminently.

Thus, the Commission considered that the beneficiary is, prima facie, in a situation of grave risk, in view of the fact that she would be deported in circumstances in which the Panamanian authorities would not have assessed her situation of health risk and possibilities of continuing medical treatment in Venezuela. Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission, in its Resolution 81/2018, requested the State of Panama to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the rights to life, personal integrity, and health of Mrs. M.B.B.P. In particular, the IACHR requested Panama to refrain from deporting or expelling the beneficiary to Venezuela until the domestic authorities have duly assessed, in accordance with applicable international standards, the alleged risk faced with respect to her health situation.

The granting of the precautionary measure and its adoption by the State do not constitute a prejudice to an eventual petition before the inter-American system alleging violations of the rights protected in the American Convention and other applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 226/18