Already an IBA member? Sign in for a better website experience
The IBA’s response to the situation in Ukraine
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls on Venezuela’s judicial authorities to grant absolute and unconditional freedom to Judge María Lourdes Afiuni as per the announcement made to journalists by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.
Following a June 2019 visit to Venezuela, Ms Bachelet presented her latest report on the country before the Human Rights Council on 5 July 2019. During the presentation, she informed the press that Venezuela had freed 22 political prisoners, including Judge Afiuni, the previous day. However, a few hours after Ms Bachelet’s declaration, the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela issued a message from its official Twitter account that Trial Court N.17 of the Criminal Circuit of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas had only ended Judge Afiuni’s precautionary measures.
On 8 July 2019, Judge Afiuni received official notification from Trial Court N.17, dated 4 July 2019, that only one of the precautionary measures against her had been lifted: the duty to report regularly to tribunals. The travel ban and the prohibition against communicating with the media or social networks continue. In addition, the conviction of corruption is still standing, and the possibility that Judge Afiuni be imprisoned again is subject to the resolution of her pending appeal before the Appeal Court of the Criminal Circuit of Caracas.
Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, IBAHRI Co-Chair, condemned the recent developments: ‘It is disgraceful that Judge Afiuni has not been freed unconditionally. Only a public, duly notified judgment by a competent court, exonerating her of all charges and granting her effective reparations, can be considered an appropriate measure.’She added: ‘The IBAHRI denounces the complete disregard of due process guarantees. Freeing her without delay will demonstrate an effective step towards the restoration of the rule of law and the respect and promotion of human rights in Venezuela.’
The IBAHRI is concerned that the proceedings against Judge Afiuni have once again become an example of the erosion of the rule of law and judicial independence in Venezuela, as corroborated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in her latest report. In it, she states, ‘The lack of independence of, and corruption within, the judiciary are also major obstacles faced by victims in their search for justice and reparation.’
The declarations of the High Commissioner sparked hope that the nine-year long political process against Judge Afiuni was finally over, however, the recent actions of the Venezuelan authorities continue to restrict Judge Afiuni's freedom and disregard her human rights, as has been the case for almost a decade. In brief:
Notes to the Editor
For further information please contact:
Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
International Bar Association
4th Floor, 10 St Bride Street,
London EC4A 4AD
Mobile: +44 (0)7940 731 915
Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7842 0094
Main Office: +44 (0)20 7842 0090
Fax: +44 (0)20 7842 0091