N° 81/09




Washington, D.C., December 4, 2009 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing in Venezuela of Oscar Barrios, beneficiary of provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court HR)


Oscar Barrios, 22 years old, was killed on November 28, 2009, the fifth member of this family to be killed, according to the information received, by police officers of the Aragua State.


The first precautionary measures to protect members of the Barrios family were granted by the IACHR on June 22, 2004, after receiving information on the killing of two members of this family, allegedly by policemen. Three months later, another family member was killed, and the IACHR requested provisional measures to the IA Court HR. The Court’s protection measures were in force when Rigoberto Barrios, 15 years old, was killed on January 9, 2005. From that date, the members of the family continued to be targets for detention, raids, threats and harassment, and on November 28, 2009, Oscar Barrios was killed.


The Inter-American Commission views as extremely serious that the State of Venezuela had not adopted the necessary measures to protect the life and integrity of Oscar Barrios, taking into consideration the previous killings of other family members, the threats and harassment he was submitted to, and the protective measures ordered by the Inter-American Court.


The IACHR reminds that it is the obligation of the State to investigate on its own initiative events of this nature and to sanction those responsible. Moreover, the IACHR urges the Venezuelan authorities to immediately adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity and security of this family.


A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.


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