OAS demands that Venezuela release Guyanese fishermen from illegal detention
Kaieteur News – The American Provincial Organization (OAS), the world’s oldest regional body, yesterday called for the prompt release of Guyanese fishermen and fishing vessels by Nicolas Maduro’s administration from Venezuela, whose military illegally seized last Thursday, January 21, 2021. He also registered his support for the ongoing litigation in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as the appropriate solution to the debate.
In its condemnation of Venezuela’s operation, the OAS reinforced its support for Guyana’s position in the debate against Venezuela, noting that the fishing crew and vessels were located in Guyana’s Unique Economic Zone (EEZ).
The first two ships, Lady Nayera and Sea Wolf, had been operating just offshore at Waini Point, in position N 80 49 ’06 ”/ w 590 37 ’40” W, where they were intercepted by Vessel Venezuelan Navy, Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, and ordered to navigate their way to Port Guiria for maintenance.
Guyana quickly informed its citizens that it used all diplomatic channels to ensure the safe return of the crew.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has vowed to go ahead with the early release of the crew. Guyana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, took part in a virtual dialogue with Arreaza on Tuesday when Arreaza was assured that crews are being treated with respect for their human rights.
“The Foreign Ministers exchanged views within the context of the detention of ships and crew,” a statement from the Guyana ministry announced.
On Monday Todd had called the Chargé d’A Affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy, Mr Moses Chavez, to get him to deliver a Guyana protest note to Maduro’s foreign ministry for his actions, condemning the illegal detention. The Minister of Guyana reportedly stated that Venezuela’s actions were inadvertent, and provided that the ships, on the grounds of latitude and longitude, were within Guyana territory.
Venezuela rejected Guyana’s demands for the release of the fishing crew, and threatened further action against other Guyanese found in Essequibo waters.
Venezuela arrested the ships in accordance with a presidential decree made by its President, Nicolas Maduro, on January 7, promising to “re-conquer” the Essequibo region.
Along with the Maduro decree the Venezuela national assembly made a unanimous decree from all political factions to fight for the region, and the establishment of the ‘Special Commission for the Protection of Territorial and Territorial Sovereignty of Guayana Esequiba.’
Commenting further on the debate, the OAS said, “The General Secretariat reiterates its support for the rules and processes set out by international law regarding ongoing territorial conflicts. Resolution of the territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana is an issue that comes under international jurisdiction, and cannot be settled by unilateral action. Any attempt to dismantle this international legal process, such as the decree issued by the Maduro regime, is contrary to international law and standards, and has no legal significance or significance. ”
Maduro, alongside his presidential decree, had written the United Nations asking him to advocate for an alternative solution to the ongoing litigation in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The Court, in December, issued a ruling indicating that it had jurisdiction to hear an issue in a border case that Guyana filed against neighboring Venezuela. The decree states that the Secretary-General of the United Nations may choose a method of settlement under Article 33 of the United Nations Charter, which includes a judicial settlement.
Venezuela had long ruled that it preferred direct negotiations and rejected the ICJ’s jurisdiction to settle this issue once and for all.
The United States and Canada have spoken out in favor of the ICJ case as the answer to the debate. Venezuela has become increasingly isolated in its attempt to seize Guyana’s territory.