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Venezuela: The prosecutor’s career

Persons selected as prosecutors must be individuals of integrity and ability, with appropriate training and qualifications.[1] Accordingly, States must ensure that selection criteria embody safeguards against appointments based on partiality or prejudice, and that prosecutors have appropriate education and training.[2] 

Promotion of prosecutors must be based on objective factors and decided upon in accordance with fair and impartial procedures.[3] 

Prosecutors must enjoy “[r]easonable conditions of service … adequate remuneration and, where applicable, tenure, pension and age of retirement shall be set out by law or published rules or regulations”.[4] They must “at all times maintain the honour and dignity of the profession”.[5]

 

The Organic Law of the Office of the Public Prosecutor provides the procedure and criteria for the appointment of prosecutors.[6] To enter the career of prosecutor, it is necessary to participate and be selected in public tenders carried out by the Attorney General’s Office. In order to be appointed, candidates must additionally complete the academic programme of the National Academy of Public Prosecutors.[7]

The Organic Law guarantees the tenure of all prosecutors selected in accordance with these provisions.[8]

The Attorney General recently stated that there is a continuing programme of public competitions to select and appoint public prosecutors in Venezuela,[9] and that currently there are 53 postulants[10] for 207 open posts during 2014.[11]

In practice, the vast majority (99 per cent) of prosecutors are however not appointed through public tenders, and are appointed and may be dismissed at will by the Attorney General at his or her discretion, as the regime provided by the Organic Law is only applied to career prosecutors.[12]

Approximately 600 prosecutors do not have guarantee of tenure, and continue to be exposed to undue interference and pressure.

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. 1. UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, [expand title=”Guideline 1;”]

    Persons selected as prosecutors shall be individuals of integrity and ability, with appropriate training and qualifications.

    [/expand]
  2. 2. UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, [expand title=”Guideline 2.”]

    States shall ensure that:

    (a) Selection criteria for prosecutors embody safeguards against appointments based on partiality or prejudice, excluding any discrimination against a person on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, social or ethnic origin, property, birth, economic or other status, except that it shall not be considered discriminatory to require a candidate for prosecutorial office to be a national of the country concerned;

    (b) Prosecutors have appropriate education and training and should be made aware of the ideals and ethical duties of their office, of the constitutional and statutory protections for the rights of the suspect and the victim, and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law.

    [/expand]
  3. 3. UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, [expand title=”Guideline 7;”]

    Promotion of prosecutors, wherever such a system exists, shall be based on objective factors, in particular professional qualifications, ability, integrity and experience, and decided upon in accordance with fair and impartial procedures.

    [/expand] International Association of Prosecutors Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, [expand title=”Article 6(e).”]

    In order to ensure that prosecutors are able to carry out their professional responsibilities independently and in accordance with these standards, prosecutors should be protected against arbitrary action by governments. In general they should be entitled :

    (e) to recruitment and promotion based on objective factors, and in particular professional qualifications, ability, integrity, performance and experience, and decided upon in accordance with fair and impartial procedures;

    [/expand]
  4. 4. UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, [expand title=”Guideline 6;”]

    Reasonable conditions of service of prosecutors, adequate remuneration and, where applicable, tenure, pension and age of retirement shall be set out by law or published rules or regulations.

    [/expand] International Association of Prosecutors, Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, [expand title=”Article 6(c)-(d).”]

    In order to ensure that prosecutors are able to carry out their professional responsibilities independently and in accordance with these standards, prosecutors should be protected against arbitrary action by governments. In general they should be entitled :

    (c) to reasonable conditions of service and adequate remuneration, commensurate with the crucial role performed by them and not to have their salaries or other benefits arbitrarily diminished;

    (d) to reasonable and regulated tenure, pension and age of retirement subject to conditions of employment or election in particular cases; 

    [/expand]

  5. 5. UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, [expand title=”Guideline 3;”]

    Prosecutors, as essential agents of the administration of justice, shall at all times maintain the honour and dignity of their profession.

    [/expand] International Association of Prosecutors, Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, [expand title=”Article 1(a).”]

    Prosecutors shall:

    (a) at all times maintain the honour and dignity of their profession;

    [/expand]

  6. 6. Organic Law of the Office of the Public Prosecutor, Article 94 and Articles 99-114.
  7. 7. Resolution of the Attorney General No. 263, Official Gazette No. 38.905, 7 April 2008.
  8. 8. Organic Law of the Office of the Public Prosecutor, Article 89.
  9. 9. See: El Nuevo Herald (13 June 2014), ‘Luisa Ortega Díaz niega que fiscales venezolanos no sean independientes’. Available at: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2014/06/13/1772297/fiscal-venezolana-asegura-no-es.html (Accessed 21 August 2014).
  10. 10. See: El Nuevo Herald (13 June 2014), ‘Luisa Ortega Díaz niega que fiscales venezolanos no sean independientes’. Available at: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2014/06/13/1772297/fiscal-venezolana-asegura-no-es.html (Accessed 21 August 2014).
  11. 11. See: Ministerio Público inició proceso de recepción de credenciales para aspirantes a la carrera fiscal, Public Prosecutor Office Web Site. Available at: http://www.mp.gob.ve/web/guest/escuela-nacional-de-fiscales?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_jB3X&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=column-2&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_101_INSTANCE_jB3X_struts_action=%2Fasset_publisher%2Fview_content&_101_INSTANCE_jB3X_urlTitle=ministerio-publico-inicio-proceso-de-recepcion-de-credenciales-para-aspirantes-a-la-carrera-fiscal&_101_INSTANCE_jB3X_type=content&redirect=%2Fweb%2Fguest%2Fescuela-nacional-de-fiscales (Accessed 21 August 2014).
  12. 12. Resolution of the Attorney General No. 60, Official Gazette No. 36.654, 4 March 1999, Article 5.
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