THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has been carefully
following events in Venezuela, from a human rights points of view, in light
of the grave developments that have been unfolding in that country.
After the events of April 11 and the subsequent alteration of the constitutional order, the Commission issued a press release on April 13, 2002, expressing, inter alia, its most emphatic condemnation of the violent acts that cost the lives of at least 15 people and injured more than a hundred. The Commission also expressed its regret over the arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations that took place over April 12 and 13 deplored the dismissal of top authorities from the three branches of government, and warned that those actions would constitute an interruption of the constitutional order as defined in the Democratic Charter.
that backdrop, on April 13 the Commission asked the de
facto government for information on the arrest and incommunicado
status of Mr. Hugo Chávez Frías, and it sought precautionary measures
related to the freedom, personal integrity, and right to a fair trial of Mr.
Tarek William Saab, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the
Venezuelan National Assembly.
IACHR has received information relating to events following the return to
power of President Chávez, involving outbreaks of civil unrest, looting,
and groups of hooded motorcyclists patrolling different districts of
Caracas. The IACHR has also been told of harassment forcing major newspapers
to suspend circulation; journalists being intimidated and, on account of
security concerns, being prevented from doing their jobs; and many people
expressing fears about their personal security and integrity. In light of
these incidents, the Commission calls on the government of Venezuela to
ensure that the human rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human
Rights are ensured with respect to all persons under its jurisdiction.
The Commission reiterates the need for the investigations into the events of the past serveral days to fully respect the judicial guarantees that the American Convention upholds. In particular, the State must guarantee the right of all detainees to be informed of the reasons for their arrest and of the authority ordering, together with their right to be brought promptly before a competent judge and to receive assistance from legal counsel of their own choosing and to communicate freely and privately with that counsel.
Inter-American Commission believes it should underscore the efforts to
uphold human rights made by Venezuela’s nongovernmental organizations
during the constitutional crisis. The IACHR will continue to keep a very
close watch on developments in Venezuela’s human rights situation, and it
offers the Venezuelan State its assistance within the limits of its
Washington D.C., April 15, 2002.