http://rfkcenter.org/rfk-center-calls-for-immediate-investigation-into-deaths-in-venezuela-2?view=article&lang=en

El Centro RFK insta a las autoridades venezolana a investigar los muertes

PARA PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA

(24 febrero, 2014 | Washington D.C) Santiago A. Canton, Director del Programa de Derechos Humanos del Centro Robert F. Kennedy para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (Centro RFK) denuncia la reciente violencia en Venezuela durante las protestas antigubernamentales, que han dado como resultado once muertos, más de 130 personas con lesiones, y más de 70 detenidos. El Centro RFK insta a las autoridades venezolanas a investigar y procesar de manera inmediata e imparcial a los responsables de estas muertes, en lugar de perseguir a disidentes por expresar sus opiniones políticas.

“Las autoridades no deben utilizar estas manifestaciones como pretexto para silenciar o encarcelar a los disidentes políticos. El Centro RFK insta a las autoridades venezolanas a liberar inmediatamente a Leopoldo López y a todos aquellos que fueron arrestados arbitrariamente por participar en manifestaciones. Las autoridades deben cesar los ataques y la persecución a los disidentes. La democracia venezolana desde Hugo Chávez se ha basado en la persecución de los disidentes políticos, la censura de los medios de comunicación críticos y el control del poder judicial”, declaró Santiago A. Canton. “Desafortunadamente, los eventos recientes no son sorprendentes. Los actos de violencia y la participación de los grupos paramilitares son la consecuencia de un constante deterioro del estado de derecho durante más de una década”.

El pasado 12 de febrero, Día de la Juventud, miles de personas manifestaron en Caracas, pidiendo la liberación de los estudiantes detenidosdurante las protestas universitarias. Los informes de la sociedad civil y de prensa, señalaron que la protesta comenzó pacíficamente, pero que más tarde los manifestantes fueron víctimas del uso excesivo de la fuerza por parte de agentes de seguridad del Estado. Los oficiales uniformados y fuerzas paramilitares reaccionaron con gases lacrimógenos, balas de goma, golpes y armas de fuego contracentenas de jóvenes manifestantes que lanzaron piedras e incendiaron vehículos. Las protestas continuaron durante este fin de semana, y la cifra de muertos se elevó a once. Al menos cinco personas han muerto debido a disparos de armas de fuego.

Asimismo, el Centro RFK expresa su preocupación por los recientes ataques contra defensores de derechos humanos yperiodistas, incluyendo varios casos de censura a la prensa.

Durante la cobertura de las protestas, dos periodistas fueron arrestados, otros fueron atacados e intimidados, y parte de los equipos fueron confiscados. Además, la Comisión Nacional de Comunicaciones de Venezuela (CONATEL) lanzó una advertencia a los medios de comunicación, declarando que la cobertura mediática de las manifestaciones podría constituir una violación a la Ley de Radiodifusión, que prohíbe la difusión de imágenes que inciten a la violencia y amenacen el orden público. CONATEL también ordenó a los proveedores de cable que bloqueen las emisiones del canal internacional de televisión NTN24, debido a sus reportajes sobre las protestas.

Además, de acuerdo con los informes de la sociedad civil, el defensor de derechos humanos, Inti Rodríguez, coordinador de medios de la organización PROVEA, fue detenido el 12 de febrero por el Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN) y fue llevado a un lugar desconocido donde fue retenido por dos horas y donde soportó amenazas de muerte, golpes e interrogatorios sobre las actividades de PROVEA. Asimismo, el 13 de febrero, el Ministro del Interior acusó a Humberto Prado Sifontes, director del Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones, de ser culpable de actos de violencia durante los recientes conflictos.Esto denuncia, se suma a los permanentes esfuerzos del gobierno para desacreditar al Sr. Prado por su trabajo en defensa de los derechos humanos.

Asimismo, el 18 de febrero, el líder opositor Leopoldo López se entregó a la Guardia Nacional después de que se le emitiera una orden de arresto, bajo los cargos de “homicidio” y “terrorismo” en relación a las muertes ocurridas durante las manifestaciones. Ese jueves, López encabezó una manifestación pacífica hacia el Ministerio de Justicia e Interior, donde se entregó voluntariamente. Las autoridades gubernamentales no han presentado pruebas en su contra, y él ha sostenido que tales acusaciones no son ciertas. El 20 de febrero, los fiscales venezolanos retiraron los cargos previos, y en su lugar, culparon formalmente al líder de la oposición de incendio premeditado, daños a la propiedad pública, conspiración e incitación al crimen. En caso de ser condenado, López podría enfrentar hasta 10 años de prisión.

Mientras tanto, el 17 de febrero, las fuerzas de seguridad armadas irrumpieron en las oficinas principales del partido político de López, Voluntad Popular, sin una orden de arresto, dañando la propiedad privada e intimidando a los miembros del personal. Además, se ha emitido una orden de arresto para otro líder de la oposición, Carlos Vecchio, por su presunta responsabilidad en los hechos de violencia.

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Fundado en 1968, el Centro Robert F. Kennedy para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (Centro RFK) tiene como misión avanzar la visión de Robert F. Kennedy de un mundo más justo y pacífico. En asociación con defensores de derechos humanos del mundo entero, RFK Partners for Human Rights es la rama de litigio, promoción de derechos, y denuncia de violaciones del Centro RFK.

Meaghan Baron Director de Comunicaciones, Centro RFK

Oficina +917.284-6352 | e-mail: baron@rfkcenter.org

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Press Releases
RFK Center Calls for Immediate Investigation into Deaths in Venezuela

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Véase a continuación para una versión en español | Full legal analysis follows below)

Analysis of International Legal Framework for Anti-Government Protests in Venezuela

Análisis del marco jurídico internacional de las protestas contra el gobierno en Venezuela

(February 24, 2014 | Washington, DC) Santiago A. Canton, Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights, decries the recent violence in Venezuela during anti-government protests, which has resulted in at least eleven deaths, over 130 people injured, and upwards of 70 arrests. The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) calls on Venezuelan authorities to immediately and impartially investigate and prosecute those responsible for the deaths, rather than targeting individuals for expressing political dissidence.

“Authorities must not use these demonstrations as a pretext to silence or jail political dissidents. The RFK Center urges Venezuelan authorities to immediately release Leopoldo López and all those arbitrarily arrested for demonstrating. Authorities must cease the attacks and persecution of dissidents. Venezuela’s democracy since Hugo Chávez has been based on persecuting political dissidents, silencing critical media and controlling the judiciary,” said Santiago A. Canton, Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights. “Unfortunately, the recent events are not surprising. The acts of violence and the reported participation of para-military groups are a consequence of the constant deterioration of the rule of law during more than a decade.”

On February 12, thousands of people demonstrated in Caracas on Venezuela’s Day of Youth, calling for the release of student demonstrators who were detained a few days prior during university protests across the country. Civil society and news reports indicate that the protest started peacefully, however protesters were met with undue force from security forces later in the day. Para-military and uniformed officers used tear gas, rubber bullets, beatings, and firearms in reaction to a few hundred young demonstrators throwing rocks and setting vehicles on fire. The weeks-long protests continued over this past weekend, when the death toll rose to eleven. At least five people have died from gunshot wounds.

The RFK Center is also concerned about the recent attacks against human rights defenders and journalists, including censorship of the press. While covering the protests last week, two journalists were arrested, others were attacked and intimidated, and some had their equipment confiscated.

In a more systemic intimidation of the press, the Venezuela National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) issued a warning to media organizations that media coverage of the demonstrations may constitute a breach of Venezuela’s broadcasting law, barring media from displaying images that may incite violence or threaten public order. CONATEL also ordered cable providers to block the broadcast of the international TV channel NTN24 because of its reporting on the protests.

Several activists have been directly targeted by Venezuelan authorities for arrest on questionable charges. According to civil society reports, human rights defender and the media coordinator for PROVEA Inti Rodríguez was detained on February 12 by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional – SEBIN) and brought to an unknown location where he was held for two hours and endured death threats, beatings, and interrogations about PROVEA’s activities. On February 13, the Minister of Interior accused Humberto Prado Sifontes, President of Venezuelan Prison Watch, of being guilty of violent acts during the recent unrest, adding to the government’s year-long attempt to discredit Mr. Sifontes and his work defending human rights in the country.

On February 18, opposition leader Leopoldo López surrendered to the Venezuelan National Guard after an arrest warrant was issued for him on charges of murder and terrorism related to the deaths during demonstrations. Government authorities have provided no evidence for its claims of López’s responsibility for the deaths, and he has maintained that the allegations are untrue. On February 20, Venezuelan prosecutors dropped the previous charges, and instead formally charged the opposition leader with arson, damaging public property, conspiracy, and incitement to commit crimes. If convicted, López could face up to 10 years imprisonment.

Meanwhile, on February 17, armed security forces raided the headquarters of López’s political party Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) without producing an arrest warrant, damaging private property and intimidating staff members. Adding to the list of individuals targeted with blame for the mass protests, an arrest warrant has also been issued for Carlos Vecchio, another opposition leader, for his alleged responsibility for the violence.

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The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights (RFK Center) was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy’s family and friends as a living memorial to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world. RFK Partners for Human Rights engages in strategic long-term partnerships with RFK Human Rights Award Laureates, augmenting the effectiveness of grassroots leaders to support sustainable social justice movements.

Contact:
Meaghan Baron
Director of Communications, RFK Center
+1.917.426.2823 | Baron@rfkcenter.org

Analysis of International Legal Framework for Anti-Government Protests in Venezuela

International legal framework

To date in the year 2014, violence during anti-government protests in Venezuela has resulted in at least 11 deaths and upwards of 70 arrests. Venezuela participates within an international legal framework that does not allow for excessive use of force against protesters and calls for the protection of basic human rights, such as the right to freedom of assembly.

Venezuela is bound by its international obligations under articles 4, 5, and 7 of the American Convention on Human Rights (AHCR) and articles 6(1), 7, and 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to guarantee the rights to life, humane treatment, and liberty and security of person. Under articles 13, 15, and 16 of the ACHR and articles 19, 21, and 22 of the ICCPR Venezuelan authorities, including security forces, must also ensure the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

Political and social participation through the exercise of freedom of assembly is critical to the consolidation of democratic life in societies and thus contains a keen social interest. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has stated that “[i]mplicit in protection of the right of assembly is not just the State’s obligation to refrain from interfering in the exercise of that right, but also its obligation to adopt, in certain circumstances, positive measures to guarantee it: for example, protecting demonstrators from physical violence by persons who may hold the opposite opinion.”

With regards to Venezuela the IACHR has specifically observed that “the lawful function of the security forces is to protect peaceful demonstrators and to ensure public security, acting with complete impartiality towards all […] citizens, regardless of their political affiliation or the content of their demonstrations. […] Under international law and the […] Constitution, the actions of the security forces in democratic systems should exclusively serve the interests of society at large, not given political factions. In other words, in exercising their public functions, the police should not side with political parties or movements, however large they may be, against other similar groups that confront or threaten them.” Furthermore the arrest of participants at peaceful demonstrations violates freedom of assembly.

Use of force

The IACHR has stated that “the actions of State agents should protect rather than discourage the right of assembly. Therefore, the rationale for dispersing demonstrations must be informed by the duty to protect the people demonstrating. A law enforcement officer charged with dispersing demonstrators must be prepared to use the methods that are safest and cause the least harm to the demonstrators.”

The degree of force exercised by state agents, to be considered within international parameters, must not exceed what is “absolutely necessary.” Lethal force, including firearms, may only be used in those extreme circumstances where nonviolent means are insufficient to restrain or detain those who are threatening the life or personal safety of others. The state must not use force disproportionately and immoderately against individuals who, because they are under its control, do not represent a threat; in such cases, the use of force is disproportional.

Duties to investigate, prosecute, and punish perpetrators

The government has an obligation to promptly investigate, prosecute, and punish violent acts that occur during protests, including the abuse of force by security personnel and aggression by third parties, and to provide reparations to victims or their next of kin.


  Secretariado Permanente
Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe para la Democracia- REDLAD
Website: http://www.redlad.org/
E-mail: secretariado@redlatinoamerica.org

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