N 5/04





          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the serious acts of violence that occurred during demonstrations in Venezuela from February 27 to March 1, 2004.  According to reports, there were at least three deaths and 21 persons wounded in various Venezuelan cities owing to the improper use of force by the National Guard, the Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP) and the police, and to acts by persons demonstrating in favor of or against the Government.  The Commission recalls that the Venezuelan State is duty-bound to maintain public order within the framework of national and international human rights instruments.


          The IACHR has learned that many people were detained following the public demonstrations.  It calls upon the State to respect the right to due process and the basic rights of the detainees.  Likewise, in view of the injuries suffered by members of the media covering the demonstrations, the Commission urges Venezuelan officials to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers and facilities to enable them to continue their task of informing Venezuelan society.


          The Commission makes an urgent appeal for a peaceful resolution and the preservation of democracy and the rule of law in compliance with the American Convention and the Inter-American Democratic Charter.  Only through dialogue and respect for the democratic system will it be possible to find a solution to the difficult situation facing the people of Venezuela.


          Lastly, the IACHR expresses its support for the efforts made by the OAS and the Carter Center to enlist international collaboration in seeking a constitutional, peaceful, and democratic solution to the current conflict.  The Commission will keep a close watch on developments as they unfold and will continue to perform its functions in the promotion and defense of human rights pursuant to the instruments governing its mandate.



Washington, D.C., March 3, 2004