Mexico City - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announces that following a comprehensive evaluation of the general human rights situation in Venezuela and the grave political and social crisis there, and based on a request from civil society, it has decided to prepare a third report on the human rights situation in Venezuela, with an emphasis on the following areas: a) democratic institutions; b) violence and citizen security; c) freedom of expression; and d) impact on economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR).
In 2003, the IACHR published the Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela after an in loco visit to the country in 2002. Then in 2009, it published the second report on human rights situation in Venezuela, Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela. Since then, the Commission has continued to monitor the deterioration of the human rights situation in Venezuela closely through the mechanisms available to it, including granting precautionary measures, requesting information from the State, issuing press releases, and including the country in Chapter IV(B) of the annual report.
The IACHR has expressed deep concerned over Venezuela’s denunciation of the American Convention on Human Rights, which took effect on September 10, 2013. However, as a member State of the OAS, Venezuela is still under the jurisdiction of the Commission and subject to the obligations contained in the OAS Charter and the American Declaration, which it signed in 1948. In this sense, Venezuela’s denunciation of the American Convention does not affect the Inter-American Commission’s competence to weigh matters involving Venezuela. Likewise, any human rights violations that took place prior to the denunciation taking effect can be heard by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in accordance with Article 78(2) of the American Convention. The IACHR has continued to receive, process, and decide on petitions and cases regarding the State of Venezuela. So far in 2017, 43 petitions have been received and are in the preliminary examination stage. There are also 58 petitions in the admissibility stage and 19 cases in the merits stage. Also, a case was submitted before the Court this year on subsequent liability on an issue of freedom of expression in a matter of public interest. Two cases are also awaiting judgment, including a case on violations of the right to participate in government (San Miguel Sosa et al.), freedom of expression, and equal protection to the detriment of four individuals who signed for a recall referendum in 2004. A hearing is also set to be held on a case of violence against women (the case of Linda Loaiza Lopez Soto). Provisional measures are also in effect for a number of penitentiaries.
The IACHR reiterates that it has asked for the State to consent to an in loco visit several time, which the Venezuelan State has not granted. Therefore, to prepare the aforementioned report and in light of the lack of consent, the IACHR will base its analysis on its monitoring of the overall human rights situation conducted throughout 2017 using information collected during hearings that included the active participation of the State; on information available from other public sources; on its precautionary measures mechanism; on the petitions and cases system; and on the responses provided by the State to IACHR requests for information on a number of human rights issues under the authority established in Article 18 of its Rules of Procedure. Likewise, on August 16, the IACHR requested information from both the State and civil society organizations for preparing this report with a three-week deadline for the submission of information. The IACHR, once again exhorts the State to consent to an on-site visit to Venezuela.
Hereinafter, the IACHR provides the international community with a list of the actions it has taken during 2017 regarding the human rights situation in Venezuela and the crisis it faces.
Actions taken by the IACHR during 2017 regarding Venezuela:
On January 14, 2017, through Resolution No. 1/17, the IACHR granted precautionary measures to the benefit of David Smolansky, Freddy Guevara, Ismael León, and Juan Pablo López Gross, members of the Voluntad Popular party; Theresly Malavé, a human rights defender; and Alexander Tirado, Raúl Emilio Baduel, Ángel Contreras, Yon Goicoechea, and Delson Guárate, who were arrested and held in the 26 de Julio jail and the Helicoide, in Venezuela.
On January 20, 2017, through Resolution No. 2/17, the IACHR granted precautionary measures for Lorenzo Mendoza and his family, in Venezuela. The request for precautionary measures alleges that Lorenzo Mendoza and his family are at risk due to alleged statements and acts of harassment presumably carried out by senior State officials and third parties.
On February 15, through press release No. 13/17, the IACHR valued Venezuela’s recognition of responsibility before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Johan Alexis Ortiz Hernández.
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