UN Human Rights Council: A call to address the situation of independent judges, prosecutors and lawyers in Venezuela and Myanmar

On the occasion of the interactive dialogues with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of Venezuela and Myanmar,  the ICJ urges the High Commissioner and UN Member States to monitor and address attacks on the independence of the judiciary and to protect lawyers, human rights defenders and civic space in these countries.


On the human rights violations in Myanmar justice system, the ICJ statement reads as follows:

” Mr. High Commissioner,

The International Commission of Jurists agrees with your conclusion that the military junta has established an all-encompassing system of control of the legal and administrative system to facilitate gross human rights violations.

The ICJ calls attention to the instrumentalization of the courts to persecute over 19,290 politically disfavored individuals on spurious charges, while flagrantly violating the most basic fair trial guarantees. In the last few weeks alone, we have seen a wave of new measures being taken to deprive the judiciary of independence and limit the ability of lawyers to represent political detainees. Of the 5,839 convictions of persons for political reasons, the ICJ has recorded only a single acquittal. Last week, the judge who issued this acquittal was officially removed from the bench for this judgment.

These human rights violations would be perpetrated in silence if not for the work of local human rights defenders and their cooperation with bodies such as OHCHR and the Special Rapporteur.

The ICJ calls on member States of the Council to put practical and flexible measures in place for the protection of local human rights defenders. The ICJ also calls on the HRC to ensure that OHCHR and the SR are given adequate resources to continue their important functions in relation to Myanmar as effectively as possible. Finally, ICJ urges the High Commissioner to work to document and shed light on widespread and systemic violations in the administration of justice, which constitute a significant part of the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis.”


On the report by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights on Venezuela, the ICJ issues the statement below:

“Mr. High Commissioner,

The International Commission of Jurists welcomes your report on the human rights situation in Venezuela.

The ICJ calls the attention of the Council to the lack of effective and meaningful cooperation of Venezuela with the High Commissioner’s Office and other international mechanisms, and the lack of compliance with their recommendations.

The ICJ has documented the persistent and systematic lack of judicial and prosecutorial independence in the country, which has facilitated rampant impunity for human rights violations. Of particular concern is the fact that more than 98 percent of the existing prosecutorial offices function under irregular interim arrangements, and that the Chief Prosecutor has undermined security of tenure by making some positions subject to free appointment and removal, as well as by modifying the requirements of objective competitive admissions. The turnover rate of prosecutors due to dismissals or transfers is excessive. In 2022 only, at least 313 transfers of prosecutors took place.

The practice of arbitrary detentions and spurious and politically motivated criminal proceedings against human rights defenders is widespread, such as the case of Javier Tarazona, director of the NGO FundaRedes, who remains imprisoned. Civic space continues to be restricted in the country.

The ICJ urges the High Commissioner and the Council to call on Venezuelan authorities to uphold their human rights obligations and to take effective measures with a view to protecting human rights defenders and the civic space in the country.

Thank you.”


Sandra Epal-Ratjen, ICJ Main UN Representative and Senior Legal Adviser, e: sandra.epal@icj.org 

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