IACHR CONCERNED OVER INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION INITIATIVE IN VENEZUELA
Washington, December 3, 2010—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the government of Venezuela's proposal to adopt legal provisions to control the international cooperation funding received by nongovernmental organizations.
According to the information the Commission has received, President Hugo Chávez asked the National Assembly to adopt a law prohibiting political parties and nongovernmental organizations from receiving international funding.
The Commission expresses its concern over the possibility of laws being approved that could create impediments to the formation, independence, and operations of nongovernmental organizations. Of particular concern to the IACHR is the possibility that the International Cooperation Bill that was approved at first debate by the full chamber of the National Assembly in 2006 will be reactivated. The vagueness of the language of some of the bill's provisions and the broad discretion granted to the authorities in charge of regulating the law create the risk that this law could be interpreted in a restrictive manner to limit the exercise of the rights of association, freedom of expression, political participation, and equality. This could seriously affect the functioning of nongovernmental organizations, whose independent role has been essential for the strengthening of democracy in Venezuela.
Moreover, the IACHR Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression expresses its concern over the implications that a bill of this nature could have for the exercise of this right in Venezuela. Indeed, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression establishes that "direct or indirect pressures exerted upon journalists or other social communicators to stifle the dissemination of information are incompatible with freedom of expression." It also states that "restrictions to the free circulation of ideas and opinions, as well as the arbitrary imposition of information and the imposition of obstacles to the free flow of information violate the right to freedom of expression." The Commission and the Office of the Rapporteur call to mind that freedom of expression is a right inherent to all human beings and that its exercise is not limited to the news media or journalists.
In its Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, the Commission recommended that the States refrain from restricting the means of financing of human rights organizations. "The states should allow and facilitate human rights organizations’ access to foreign funds in the context of international cooperation, in transparent conditions," the report states. These recommendations are based on an analysis of the pivotal role that human rights defenders play in the process of fully obtaining the rule of law and the strengthening of democracy. The Commission invites the State of Venezuela to implement these recommendations and trusts that if this legislation is enacted, it will be adapted to meet the standards established in international instruments for the protection of human rights.
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 a 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 are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.
Press Release 26/06: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Concerned over Venezuelan Draft Legislation on International Cooperation
Press contact: María Isabel
To subscribe to the IACHR press release mailing list, please type your e-mail address in this form.