Spanish Version

Is the Legislative Branch Controlled by the Executive?

Is the Judicial branch controlled by the Executive?

Is the National Electoral Council controlled by the Executive?

Is the new Citizens' Power (the Public Prosecutor, the Office of the Comptroller and the Peoples' Advocate) controlled by the Executive?

Are the Supreme Court Justices biased in the discharge of their Duties?

Is the Independence of the Judicial Career respected?

Do Venezuelan Courts respect Constitutional Law principles?

Is the Supreme Court at the service of the Administration?

Is the National Electoral Council (CNE) an Impartial Body?

Does the CNE Address The Interests of Civil Society or those of the Government?

Does the National Electoral Council Act In Conformity to the law?

Is voting by way of electronic machines reliable?

Does the Electoral Register (RE) contain true and precise information?

Are the media really independent?

Does the Penal Code limit freedom of expression?

Are journalists persecuted, threatened or harassed because of the way they cover the news?

Are human rights violated in Venezuela ?

Does discrimination on political grounds exist in Venezuela?

Are there political prisoners in Venezuela ? Are people persecuted for political reasons?

Are those active in the defense of democracy in Venezuela persecuted and imprisoned?

Are private life and private property respected?

Is freedom in education respected?

Have the human rights of the April 2002 victims been respected and have those responsible been indicted?

Is the Executive ruling under a military style?

Is the political parties system declining in Venezuela?

Are traditional trade-union organizations being respected?

Is the civil society allowed to exercise the functions conferred by the Constitution?

 
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
ARE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATED IN VENEZUELA?
 
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Summary

  • The cases of  “El Amparo”, “El Caracazo”, and "Vargas" were the object of final judgments and objections by the Inter American Court of Human Rights (CIDH).
  • “COFAVIC” brings a report before the CIDH regarding actions of Parapolice Groups.
  • “PROVEA” reports multiple violations, especially to the right to live.
  • A “Truth Committee” recommended by the OEA was never established, in order to clarify the events of April 2002, where 19 persons died.
  • The persons filmed while shooting to the crowd moving towards “Miraflores” palace on April 11th, 2002 are in full liberty. But policemen who ordered protection for the crowd were charged for being the material liable persons of the events.
  • Maikel Moreno is judge and party on the proceedings regarding April 11th, 2002.
  • Legislature’s President threatens to remove the parliamentary privilege of political prisoners, if they are elected for the Legislature on December 2005.
  • CIDH dictates protective measures over press reporters, mass media, Human Rights defendants, and some citizens threatened by extermination groups.
  • Sanction Regulations include even the “punishment jails” practices, clearly violating basic human rights.
  • Members of the National Army arrested without having brought the respective charges and without the benefit of the correspondent impeachment proceedings.
  • Francisco Usón, a Retired General, charged to 5 and a half years, for giving his opinion regarding the effects of using a flame thrower into a punishment jail.
  • A Retired Colonel brought to a judicial process for purportedly having committed contempt for authority against the National Army and the Public Administration.

1. In Venezuela the violation of human rights in the country's prisons is an issue of much concern. Moreover, cases such as El Amparo, the so-called Caracazo, and Vargas regarding with the Inter American Human Rights Court (CIDH), with headquarters in Costa Rica , has issued final sentences and even ordered compensations are widely remembered. Ever since the year 2000, several national and international organizations have been denouncing these human rights violations and their increase in recent years.


2. COFAVIC has presented specific accusations and has done a follow up of the parapolice groups' activities. In its annual reports PROVEA has also reported multiple human rights violations, particularly violations to the right to life.


3. Ever since the year 2002 the CIDH has dictated provisional protective measures for journalists (Marta Colomina and Liliana Velásquez, reporters for RCTV) media (El Nacional and Así Es la Noticia and Globovisión), human rights militants (Liliana Ortega and COFAVIC, Carlos Nieto and José Luis Uzcátegui) and regular citizens (Eloisa Barrios and members of her family) who have all been threatened by parapolice groups or extermination groups comprised of former or active police officers.


4. During the April 2002 events, 19 persons were killed and to this date those responsible remain unknown. The establishment of a Truth Commission which had been agreed upon on May 29, 2003 in the Negotiations and Agreements Roundtable chaired by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, never took place.


5. Among those indicted for the April 2002 events are four individuals who have come to be known as the Puente-Llaguno Gunmen: Richard Peñalver, Rafael Cabrices, Nicolás Rivera-Muentes, and Henry Atencio. They were filmed and taped while shooting at the opposition demonstration as it walked along the Baralt Avenue towards Miraflores Palace, on April 11, 2002. Yet they are all free today, following the September 18, 2002 ruling by the Fourth Court that exonerated them of all charges. Some have even been treated as heroes by the President of the Republic himself. On the other side, eight members of the Metropolitan Police Force, at the service of the Caracas Metropolitan Government, whose Mayor, identified with the opposition, ordered the Force to protect the demonstrators were charged with the crime and are currently held in jail in Maracay. Their names are: Sergeant Julio Ramírez Rodríguez-Salazar, Sergeant Rafael Alfredo Nazoa-López, Private Luis Enrique Molina-Cerrada, Inspector Héctor José Rovain, Corporal Arube José Pérez-Salazar, Corporal Ramón Humberto Zapata Alfonso, Commissar-in-Chief Marcos Javier Hurtado, and Agent Erasmo Bolívar.


6. Two Metropolitan Police Chief-Inspectors, Commissars Henry Vivas and Lázaro Forero, as well as Commissar Iván Simonovis, who at the time was Secretary for Citizens Security, have been under arrest for months, charged as accomplices to the crimes of murder and battering. The Judge who issued the arrest and detention orders against Commissar Simonovis is Maikel Moreno, Control Judge N° 34. Even though he had been the defense attorney for Richard Peñalver, one of the Puente-Llaguno gunmen, he did not deem it necessary to withdraw from the case. (See the press briefing on the case of the three Commissars).
Simonovis' rights were further trampled upon when he was apprehended and jailed without a judicial order.


7. Even the political rights of the ex-commissioners Forero and Simonovis are at risk. Their names have been proposed as opposition candidates for the 2005 elections of the National Assembly in order to guarantee their freedon thanks to the parliamentary immunity. Nicol ás Maduro, president of the actual National Assembly said that in the case they are elected, their immunity would be waived by the resulting pro-government mayority as predicted by him.


8. A clear indication of the deteriorated situation of human rights in Venezuela is provided by the case of soldiers who are subjected to disciplinary regulations that include even detention in punishment cells, in violation of the most basic human rights. Some of these soldiers have lost their lives in fires which happened to ignite their cells yet to date no one has been indicted for any such incident. The cases of soldiers burned to death while detained in such ignominious punishment cells, are the following:

  • Ángel Ciro Pedreáñez died on May 4, 2004. Another soldier, Orlando Bustamante, died after 35 days in intensive care for the severe burns he suffered while detained in a punishment cell in Fort Mara.
  • Soldier José Fébres-Narváez, of the Army's Special Forces Light Brigade, stationed in Monagas State, deceased on January 30, 2001, as a consequence of having been drenched in thinner and ignited, together with three other soldiers, while in detention in a disciplinary cell, by Army Lieutenant Alessandro Sicat-Torres;
  • Corporal Rommer José Luján-Martínez (aged 20) and Raúl Royett-Gutiérrez, (aged 19), members of the Reserve Battalion stationed at the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Barracks in Cumaná.


9. The National Military Detention Center of Ramo Verde houses a number of members of the Armed Forces, detained and indicted for the crime of military rebellion without having been formally charged and without the benefit of a grounds of claim trial to which they have a right by law in consideration of their senior officers status. Even though many of those senior officers have retired from the Armed Forces, their cases have not been transferred to civilian courts of justice. Among these are the following: General (Ret.) Ovidio Poggioli, General (Ret.) Francisco Usón, Col. Jesús Farías-Rodríguez, Col. Jesús Castro-Yeyes, Col. Carlos Guerra, Lt. Col. Humberto Quintero, Lt. Col. Francisco Martínez, Capt. Javier Nieto, Capt. Rafael Faría Villasmil, Capt. Javier Quintero, Capt. Otto Guevaguer, Lt. Darwin Valera, Merchant Marine Capt. Luís Salazar, General Felipe Rodríguez, alias El Cuervo.


10. Of all the above-mentioned officers, the only one who has been sentenced is Army Gen. (Ret.) Francisco Usón, condemned by a Military Court of Justice to five years and six months imprisonment for expressing an opinion about what would be the probable impact of a flamethrower weapon fired at the interior of a detention cell. In the opinion of Alberto Arteaga-Sánchez, a noted specialist in criminal law, Gen. Usón should not have been tried by a military court since at the time the events took place he was already a retired officer.


11. In May 2004, the Government revealed an alleged attempt to attack Miraflores Palace by a paramilitary group, composed in its majority of Colombian citizens. The members of such group were arrested in a farm located at the outskirts of Caracas . Those involved in the case, known as that of the 'Paramilitaries', have yet to be tried after more than a year in detention. Six Venezuelan officers are also being tried in relation to this case, among them the: Gen. (Ret.) Ovidio Poggioli - arrested without charges and brought to trial before a military court, notwithstanding his civilian condition - Colonels Jesús Farías- Rodríguez, Jesús Castro-Yelles, and Captains Javier Quintero-González, Rafael Farías-Villasmil, and Javier Nieto, who have finally been charged and for whom, in some cases, a penalty of over twenty-years imprisonment has been requested.


12. On April 21, 2005 , Colonel Darío Faría-Rodríguez, brother of Jesús Faría-Rodríguez, indicted in the Paramilitaries Case, was arrested in the neighborhood of Tiuna Fort. Colonel Darío Farías was charged with possession of a FAL rifle, hidden in his car's fender. Soon after his arrest, members of his family denounced he was being subjected to torture. Neither Darío Farías' lawyers nor his family were able to establish contact with him for several days and he remained out of bounds until a commission from the Office of the Peoples' Advocate was finally able to visit him of May 4, 2005.