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IBAHRI calls on Venezuelan government to respect and protect human rights

Friday 28 July 2017

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As the political crisis deepens in Venezuela, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls on the country’s government to protect human rights and the independence of the judiciary, maintain the rule of law and ensure all in Venezuela have equal access to justice. 

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, IBAHRI Co-Chair, stated: ‘Through a number of violations of Venezuelan law, we are witnessing the slow erosion of democratic protections and growing political instability in Venezuela. This is of deep concern to the IBAHRI, leading us to call on President Maduro and his government to respect human rights and ensure equal access to justice for everyone in Venezuela. Also, during this time of heightened tensions, we call for the protection of the rule of law, with particular emphasis on the independence of the judiciary, as outlined in Venezuela's Constitution and international human rights law.’

Since protests against the ruling government began earlier in the year, there have been a number of incidents that are detrimental to the rule of law and the separation of powers in Venezuela, including President Nicolás Maduro stating that 33 judges appointed by the National Assembly are ‘spurious’ and would be arrested ‘one by one’ for treason. Reports indicate that three of these judges have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, and have not had access to a lawyer or other legal safeguards. Within the parameters of the Venezuelan Constitution, only the National Assembly may appoint and dismiss judges. However, in March this year, the Supreme Court stripped the National Assembly of all its legislative powers.

In June, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz was summoned to a hearing before the Supreme Court as a result of contesting the Court’s March decision, effectively dissolving the National Assembly, and because of a motion she filed calling for members of the Supreme Court to step down. Ms Ortega has since had her assets frozen and has been banned from leaving the country. The result of the hearing could lead to her dismissal as Attorney General. She has requested the protection of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, Ambassador (ret.) Hans Corell, said: ‘The continued infringements of Venezuela’s Constitution demonstrate a gross overreach of powers by the Executive and a lack of regard for the fundamental principles by which Venezuela’s citizens have agreed to be governed. The reports of civilian protestors imprisoned by the military and then tried by military tribunals without lawyers or family present are alarming. Such conduct constitutes a violation of both the Constitution of Venezuela and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Venezuela ratified in 1978. We call on President Maduro as head of government to desist with these illegitimate detentions and the dismantling of national laws, and to defend the inalienable rights of the nation’s citizens and uphold international legal obligations.’


Notes to the Editor

  1. For more information on the IBAHRI’s work in Venezuela, visit: tinyurl.com/ycwk9bvc.
  2. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

For further information, please contact:

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association
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London EC4A 4AD

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