Venezuelan Government Says IACHR Ruling against it is “Biased”

Venezuelan government representatives at an Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) hearing in Washington, US, yesterday, said its claims regarding the “freedom of expression situation” in Venezuela are “biased” and  “disrespectful”  of Venezuela’s sovereignty.

By Tamara Pearson

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German Saltron speaking at the IACHR hearing yesterday (Talcualdigital)
German Saltron speaking at the IACHR hearing yesterday (Talcualdigital)
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Mérida, March 28th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –  Venezuelan government representatives at an Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) hearing in Washington, US, yesterday, said its claims regarding the “freedom of expression situation” in Venezuela are “biased” and  “disrespectful”  of Venezuela’s sovereignty.

Venezuela’s representative to the IACHR, German Saltron demanded that the commission share its sources of information with the Venezuelan government before ruling in a way that is “detrimental to the participative democracy that the Bolivarian government promotes”.

His comments were in response to claims by Venezuelan private media representatives that 2011 was a “critical” year for the government in terms of “violations of freedom of expression”.

Marco Ruiz, general secretary of the National Press Workers’ Union, claimed that there was “impunity” in the face of denunciations of violence, intimidation, or censorship towards media workers. Following Ruiz’s denouncement the IACHR convoked yesterday’s hearing, titled, “Situation of the right of freedom of expression in Venezuela”.

“We ask that the commission consider [both sides] equally, and takes into account all sources of information, and ...gives the government the chance to express its point of view on the sources of information used,” Saltron said, commenting that the commission only takes into account the “media releases of the Venezuelan private media, which, generally, acts in opposition to the national executive”.

Saltron pointed out that under previous Venezuelan governments’ human rights were “openly violated” and the IACHR recognised them as democratic. He concluded that the organisation is “totally biased against Venezuela”.

Saltron said that the IACHR should respect the Inter-American Convention, and argued that, “No country which respects its own sovereignty, would accept the IACHR’s conditions... that’s why you should really think about [this decision]... you shouldn’t disrespect nation states”.

Well known lawyer and writer, Luis Britto Garcia, also represented the Venezuela government before the commission, arguing that, “Freedom of expression in Venezuela is broader than in any other country... if there were any restrictions on this right, you wouldn’t see the masses of criticisms that the opposition private media pour out against the against the Chavez government”.

The IACHR is an organ of the Organisation of American States (OAS), and a permanent body with its headquarters in Washington. It meets during regular and special sessions several times a year, to supposedly examine allegations of human rights violations in the American continent. The Venezuelan government on many occasions has accused the OAS and its organs of being instruments to push the US’s “imperialist” agenda.

This is also not the first time the Venezuelan government has complained of IACHR bias.  At the end of last year when opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was banned from holding public office until 2014 for corruption, the IACHR intervened.  It has also put out a number of reports criticising Venezuela’s human rights situation. Government authorities also point to the IACHR’s silence during the 2002 short coup against Chavez as further proof of the commission’s bias.