Government uses pandemic to violate refugee rights, claim more than 130 organizations
In a statement, they condemn the police operation at a migrant shelter in Pacaraima that resulted in a nun and pastor working with the families being taken to the police station
Grupo de migrantes venezuelanos percorre a pé o trecho de 215 km entre as cidades de Pacaraima e Boa Vista (Foto: Marcelo Camargo/Ag. Brasil)
“It is alarming that the police have acted disproportionately, by entering the shelters without a warrant and coercively taking the people in charge of these places to the police station,” said 136 civil society organizations in a joint letter addressed to the authorities of the state of Roraima and the federal government this Tuesday, March 23. The statement was published in response to a police action in Pacaraima (state of Roraima), on the border with Venezuela, after an alleged complaint of a gathering received by the municipality’s health surveillance team.
“To properly understand the situation, we must bear in mind that the staff at the shelters did not bring the people to the country, but acted humanely to help human beings in a situation of high vulnerability and evident need for accommodation and support. Accommodating and helping people fleeing hunger, misery and serious rights violations is an act of humanity,” said the organizations.
The document was sent to the Public Security Department of Roraima, the State Public Prosecutor’s Office, the State Public Defender’s Office, the Federal Police and the National Security Force. It was signed by organizations such as Caritas Brazil, Missão Paz, Avina Foundation, CIMI (Indigenous Missionary Council), Commission on the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees of OAB-SP (São Paulo State Bar Association) and Conectas Human Rights.
The operation displaced more than 70 people, including migrant women – some of them pregnant – and children from the Casa São José shelter run by the religious organizations Sisters of Saint Joseph and Migrant Pastoral Service of the Diocese of Roraima and also the Living Waters Assemblies of God Church. Representatives of Caritas Brazil and the Federal Public Defender’s Office had to intervene to make sure there were no summary deportations and so the families could be received by the Operação Acolhida (Operation Welcome) migrant program run by the federal government.