The ICJ calls for Venezuela to accept long-standing requests for country visits by UN Special Procedures whose mandates are most relevant to the rule of law and human rights crisis in the country.
The ICJ takes note of the announcement by the Venezuelan Government that it is inviting the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Mr. Alfred de Zayas, to visit the country.
This announcement, together with a recent invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the right to development is significant. For more than a decade, the Venezuelan Government has denied or left unanswered requests for visits to the country by numerous other of the independent experts (known as “Special Procedures”) of the United Nations. The last mission to Venezuela by a special procedure was the Special Rapporteur on Torture in 1996.
However, the breakdown of the rule of law and the extremely serious human rights situation in Venezuela make visits by other United Nations Special Procedures of urgent relevance.
“In the course of this year, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, arbitrary detention, trial of civilians by military tribunals, and persecutions and attacks against opponents, dissidents and human rights defenders have become systematic and generalized practices in Venezuela, said Federico Andreu Guzman, ICJ South America Representative.
“It is therefore difficult to see why the Government of Venezuela would not respond to long-standing requests from Special Procedure mandates relevant to these violations in favour of proactively inviting other UN experts”, Andreu Guzman added.
The ICJ therefore calls on the Government of Venezuela to invite to visit the country the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the independence of judges and lawyers; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association; the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and on the situation of human rights defenders. All of these UN experts have long-standing requests to visit Venezuela, some for many years, which the Venezuelan Government has failed so far to accept.
“Under the Charter of the United Nations, Member States have the obligation to cooperate with the UN Special Procedures on human rights. This duty is of particular importance when the State is a member of the Human Rights Council, as is the case with Venezuela”, said Andreu Guzman.
The ICJ also calls on the Government of Venezuela to accept the request for a visit to the country that, since 2004, has been repeatedly issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
For several years, the following Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council have made requests to visit Venezuela: the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association; the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living; and the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.
At the regional level, although it denounced the American Convention on Human Rights in September 2012, Venezuela is still a State party to three Inter-American human rights treaties (Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture; Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons; and Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women). However, Venezuela has systematically ignored recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and has also denied IACHR requests to visit the country, made since 2004.
Federico Andreu-Guzmán, ICJ South America Representative, tel: +57 311 481 8094; email: federico.andreu(a)icj.org
Carlos Ayala Corao, ICJ Commissioner (Venezuela), tel: +57 414 243 4872; email: cayala(a)cjlegal.net
Alex Conte, ICJ Global Redress and Accountability Initiative, tel: +22 979 3802; email: alex.conte(a)icj.orgNewsWeb stories