© Photo: ISHR

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Judicial authorities complicit in violations in Venezuela, say UN experts

Prosecutors and judges in Venezuela are not only failing to investigate violations against real and perceived opponents of the Venezuelan State but are actively participating in violations against them. This is the conclusion of the UN fact-finding mission on Venezuela in its second report to the Human Rights Council.

‘There is no recourse to justice in Venezuela’ says Meudy Osio, widow of Venezuelan councilman and activist Fernando Albán, in a statement prepared for Human Rights Council interactive dialogue with the fact-finding mission.  

The Mission’s second report bears this out.  Focusing on the responses of the judicial system in cases involving real and perceived opponents of the government, the mission points to an erosion of prosecutorial and judicial independence. 

‘When judges and prosecutors act with political intent you see a collapse of legal guarantees and high levels of impunity, all of which opens up further opportunities for repression, said ISHR’s Eleanor Openshaw. ‘This is what is happening in Venezuela.’ 

In her efforts to secure justice in the case of the death of her husband Fernando Albán in 2018, Meudy Osio spelt out all the obstacles placed in her way.  Her full statement is below: 

Threats and attacks against civil society organisations and restrictions against them were highlighted by States during the dialogue with the Mission.  Both the UK and Germany both called for the release of the three human rights defenders from FundaREDES who have now been detained arbitrarily for 90 days.  

In response to the Mission report, Venezuela noted that it would cooperate with OHCHR but not the Mission.  This attempt to drive a wedge between OHCHR and the Mission was rejected strongly by the Mission. It has previously described this as an ‘artificial conflict’ generated by Venezuela. 

‘Venezuela points to cooperation with OHCHR as a way to try to undermine the Mission’s work but also take heat off by dissuading further scrutiny, a tactic aimed at influencing discussions over the next year within the UN and at the ICC.’ Noted Openshaw.  ‘’It is key that States keep focusing on Venezuela’s human rights compliance an assessment of which is provided by civil society and UN mechanisms”. 

One of the final speakers, presenting in name of FIDH and Provea noted how the Mission was one of the only means left to push for accountability and that its work was one of the final hopes for victims.

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