THE EXPELLING OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Washington D.C., September 22, 2008 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the expelling from Venezuela of Jose Miguel Vivanco and Daniel Wilkinson, Executive Director and Deputy Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization that works in the protection of human rights. On the night of Thursday, September 18 of 2008, the Venezuelan Government expelled these human rights defenders, hours after Human Rights Watch presented a report on the human rights situation in Venezuela.
This measure affects the right to freedom of expression of the representatives of that organization and constitutes an act of intolerance against criticism which is an essential component of democracy.
Both Human Rights Watch and its directors for the Americas, José Miguel Vivanco and Daniel Wilkinson, have long-standing experience defending human rights and have played an important role in promoting and protecting human rights throughout the region.
In its Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, the Inter-American Commission recognized the crucial role these human rights defenders play in guaranteeing and safeguarding democracy and the rule of law. Likewise, the IACHR highlighted that when human rights defenders are attacked, all those persons for whom they work are left without protection. For that reason, the IACHR urges the Venezuelan authorities to respect the work of human rights defenders and their freedom of expression.
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