OAS Report on Venezuelan Human Rights “Politicised” Says Government

According to an Inter-American Human Rights Commission report on Venezuela, Venezuela lacks freedom, violates human rights, represses protests, does not have an independent judiciary, and is undemocratic. However, Venezuelan government representatives responded that the report was just a political tool and President Chavez suggested that Venezuela would leave the commission.

By Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com

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Venezuela's Human Rights Ombudsperson Gabriela Ramirez (archive)
Venezuela's Human Rights Ombudsperson Gabriela Ramirez (archive)
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Merida, February 25th, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – According to a 319 page Inter-American Human Rights Commission report on Venezuela that was released yesterday, Venezuela lacks freedom, violates human rights, represses protests, does not have an independent judiciary, and is undemocratic. However, Venezuelan government representatives responded that the report was just a political tool and President Chavez suggested that Venezuela would leave the commission.

The report, titled “Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela” by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a panel that is part of the Organization of American States (OAS) said the supposed lack of judicial and legislative independence in Venezuela leads to abuses.

“Venezuela routinely violates human rights, often intimidating or punishing citizens based on their political beliefs,” the report argued.

The commission found, “Not all individuals are ensured full enjoyment of their rights irrespective of their positions on government policies” and “ the punitive power of the state is being used to intimidate or punish people on account of their political opinions. The commission believes that conditions do not exist for human rights defenders and journalists to be able to freely carry out their work."

The report also claims there is a, “pattern of impunity in cases of violence, which particularly affects media workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, participants in public demonstrations, people held in custody, 'campesinos' (small-scale and subsistence farmers), indigenous people, and women."

It also “noted” that “there are serious shortcomings with respect to union rights as well as in relation to the right of indigenous peoples to their lands” and that there are, “constraints on freedom of expression and the right to protest peaceably; the existence of a climate hostile to the free exercise of dissenting political participation and to monitoring activities on the part of human rights organizations”

Also, that there is a “weakening of the rule of law and democracy in Venezuela”.

The commission admits though, that it prepared the report, “without having been able to conduct an observation visit to Venezuela, due the government's refusal to grant its consent. The Commission's last visit to Venezuela took place in May 2002.” It states though, that its analysis is based on, “information submitted by the State of Venezuela in response to requests made by the Commission.”

Last May the IACHR wrote another report in which it claimed Venezuela was one of four countries in the Americas where human rights are particularly threatened. At that time, IACHR President Luz Patricia Mejía admitted that the private media, which are open adversaries of the Chávez government, provided the "majority of the information that the report possesses at present."

Venezuela’s President Chavez reacted angrily to the report, calling it “pure excrement” during a press conference that he called on Thursday in order to talk about the report. Chavez also said that the IACHR is a “menacing” organiaation, “a true mafia and is part of the OAS, which is why one of these days this organisation must disappear.”

Chavez added that his government would prepare a formal statement renouncing the American Convention on Human Rights, upon which the commission is based, and that Venezuela would withdraw from the commission. According to the convention, however, Venezuela must provide one years notice before leaving the IACHR.

Even though the IACHR is based in Washington, D.C. because it is part of the OAS, the United States and Canada never signed the American Convention on Human Rights.

Roy Chaderton, the Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS speaking during a session of the OAS in Washington, said the document arrives at its conclusions based on a “superficial analysis” and “political interests”.

He said the document forms part of “a systematic attack by the subversive Venezuelan opposition, supported by imperialist interests” and that every time there is an electoral year, “these organisations attack the Venezuelan government to get some kind of advantage in the elections.” Venezuela will hold National Assembly elections on 26 September this year.

Further, Chaderton said the IACHR and Human Rights Watch, which has published similar reports, are the same people “who recognised the de facto government of [Pedro] Carmona which overthrew Hugo Chavez [in 2002]”.

Venezuelan Human Rights Ombudsperson Gabriela Ramirez also responded to the report, saying the IACHR was a “partial and politicised organisation that uses political pressure mechanisms”.

“They don’t quote the ombudsperson’s office in any of the points, they just generalise based on isolated facts in order to arrive at the conclusion that the Venezuelan state threatens its citizens.”

Reading between the lines of the report, Ramirez argued that the report suggests that there is no democracy in Venezuela and that there “can’t be an electoral way out”, a message she found “worrying”. She also expressed concern that the IACHR had not conducted similar reports on other countries where there are large internal conflicts, torture and disappearances, such as in Honduras.

Speaking to the press today she said the Venezuelan government does not recognise the IACHR as impartial or “capable of saying which countries are in the most critical situations of human rights”.

Just this Tuesday Latin American and Caribbean nations united to form a new regional integration organisation which will include all countries except the United States and Canada, and which aims to run parallel to the OAS. The organisation will be formally constituted in Caracas next year, and Ramirez suggested that during this meeting an impartial human rights observer be formed.