IACHR PUBLISHES REPORT ON VENEZUELA
Washington, D.C., February 24, 2010 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today published the report entitled Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela.
In the report, the IACHR identifies a series of issues that restrict the full enjoyment of human rights. Among other issues, the IACHR analyzes a series of conditions that indicate the absence of an effective separation and independence of the public branches of power in Venezuela. The report finds that not all individuals are ensured full enjoyment of their rights irrespective of their positions on government policies. The Commission also finds that the punitive power of the State is being used to intimidate or punish people on account of their political opinions. The Commission believes that conditions do not exist for human rights defenders and journalists to be able to freely carry out their work. The IACHR also detects the existence of a pattern of impunity in cases of violence, which particularly affects media workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, participants in public demonstrations, people held in custody, campesinos (small-scale and subsistence farmers), indigenous people, and women.
In terms of economic, social, and cultural rights, the IACHR recognizes the State's achievements with regard to the progressive observance of these rights, including, most notably, the eradication of illiteracy, the reduction of poverty, and the increase in access by the most vulnerable sectors to basic services such as health care. In addition, the Commission notes that there are serious shortcomings with respect to union rights as well as in relation to the right of indigenous peoples to their lands.
The Commission emphasizes that observance of other fundamental rights cannot be sacrificed for the sake of realizing economic, social, and cultural rights in Venezuela. Human rights constitute an indissoluble whole, and, as the American Convention sets forth in its preamble, “the ideal of free men enjoying freedom from fear and want can be achieved only if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights.”
In the report's conclusions, the Commission finds that political intolerance; the lack of independence of the branches of the State in dealing with the executive; constraints on freedom of expression and the right to protest peaceably; the existence of a climate hostile to the free exercise of dissenting political participation and to monitoring activities on the part of human rights organizations; citizen insecurity; violent acts perpetrated against persons deprived of their liberty, trade union members, women, and campesinos; and, above all, the prevailing impunity affecting cases of human rights violations are factors that contribute to the weakening of the rule of law and democracy in Venezuela and that have resulted in serious restrictions to the full enjoyment of the human rights guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights.
The IACHR believes that the State must increase its efforts to combat these challenges and achieve better and more effective protection of the rights guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights.
The IACHR prepared this report without having been able to conduct an observation visit to Venezuela, due the government's refusal to grant its consent. The Commission's last visit to Venezuela took place in May 2002. The observations made during that visit were reflected in the report the IACHR published in December 2003. Since then, the Commission has taken multiple steps to seek the State’s permission to conduct an observation visit. The fact that the State to date has refused to allow the IACHR to visit not only undermines the powers assigned to the Commission as the principal body of the OAS for the promotion and protection of human rights, but also seriously weakens the collective protection system created by the Organization’s Member States.
In the report, the Commission analyzes the evolution of human rights in Venezuela based on the information it has received through its various protection mechanisms. It also bases its analysis on information submitted by the State of Venezuela in response to requests made by the Commission.
The Inter-American Commission reiterates its offer to work with the government, and with Venezuelan society as a whole, to effectively comply with the recommendations contained in its report and thereby contribute to strengthening the defense and protection of human rights within a democratic context in Venezuela.
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 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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