Posts tagged human rights
Posts tagged human rights
Venezuelan human rights group PROVEA has released the July issue of Venezuela: International Bulletin on Human Rights. This issue looks at the paradox of scarcities at a time of increased consumption (see our coverage here), the right to strike, and the human rights implications of Venezuela assuming the pro tempore presidency of MERCOSUR.
The bulletin is published monthly in Spanish, English and French.
Hugo Pérez Hernáiz
A group of Venezuelan human rights organizations put out a press release on Sunday responding to accusations Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres made against human rights activist Rocío San Miguel. San Miguel is President of the human rights NGO Control Ciudadano which specializes on access to information in military matters.
On Saturday 20th in an interview on state television Rodríguez Torres responded to San Miguel’s criticisms of the use of military personal in his citizen’s security Plan Patria Segura, by suggesting that she is a CIA operative.
“I was listening to [San Miguel] talk about human rights and the Armed Forces the other day. What I can tell you about her is that she is a CIA operative in Venezuela, and I can prove it.”
In their press release the human rights NGO’s reminded the Venezuelan that since January 18th 2012 San Miguel is protected by a precautionary measure ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the protection of her physical, moral, and psychological integrity.
Human rights group PROVEA (Venezuela Program for Education and Action in Human Rights) has released the third edition of its new International Bulletin on Human Rights.
The Bulletin is released in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English and covers the most important human rights issues of the month. This edition looks at labor unrest, the Venezuelan government’s denunciation of the American Convention on Human Rights, and several laws that may have an adverse effect on social protest, including the Law against Organized Crime and the Financing of Terrorism, which was passed in May 2012.
Last week Provea released its 2012 annual report on human rights in Venezuela. In a previous post, I outlined their findings regarding economic, social, and cultural rights, as they are presented in the 1999 Constitution. In this post, I review the report’s key findings concerning civil and political rights.
Perhaps the most important finding was continuing deterioration in citizen security. In 2012, official figures say there were 14,852 homicides, a number which continues at an upward trend. For Venezuela, this means a rate of 51 homicides per 100,000 citizens. This number rises to 23,506 homicides, or 78 per 100,000 citizens, when deaths occurring while “resisting arrest” and deaths under investigation are included (42). By comparison, in 2010, there were 13,080 homicides, 45 per 100,000 citizens. With the inclusion of those “resisting arrest” and deaths under investigation in 2010, the number of homicides rises to 21,080, a rate of 73 homicides per 100,000 citizens (407). Provea does not provide homicide figures for 2011 in this report. Until August 2012, 155 police and military persons were also killed while on duty. The report argues that the government has begun to address these issues through the Great Mission to All Life in Venezuela as well as establishing the Presidential Commission for Disarmament, which established a national gun registry to in order to reduce illegal gun ownership.
Last week Provea released its annual report on human rights situation in Venezuela for the previous year (January – December 2012). In it, Provea addresses economic, social, and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights, as they are outlined in the 1999 Constitution. In this post, I outline the report’s key findings concerning economic, social, and cultural rights, and, in a later post, I will review the report’s key findings concerning civil and political rights.
Timothy Gill and David Smilde
The political confrontation over the April 14 presidential election has re-polarized Venezuelan society, including its human rights community.
On April 16, Foro por la Vida (FV), a coalition comprised of 15 human rights groups including Provea and Espacio Publico, published a statement on the April 14 elections and the ensuing electoral crisis. In its statement, FV criticizes the use of state resources used for Maduro’s electoral campaign as well as 3,200 alleged electoral irregularities. In its press release FV “calls on civil society to channel their support into the documentation and formalization of complaints and to follow the verification process of the results in a civic manner.”
The FV statement encourages the government to accept the technical assistance offered by the Organization of the American States (OAS) to assist in a full recount of all the votes. The press release also urges the opposition and the government to engage in peaceful dialogue concerning electoral irregularities and the future of Venezuela, and asks the government to thoroughly investigate the political violence and “to refrain from abusive and disproportionate use of force” to quell opposition protests.
Hugo Pérez Hernáiz
The Defensora del Pueblo, Gabriela Ramírez continued the critical exchange between the Maduro government and human rights NGO PROVEA over the latter’s contention that the Barrio Adentro health modules (CDIs) supposedly vandalized and burned down by opposition supporters showed no sign of such attacks.
In an April 20 press conference, Ramírez said that “PROVEA has devoted itself to disclaiming the denunciations of the attacks on health centers. By doing so they are acting against their own principles as a human rights organization.” Government news bureau Agencia Venezolana de Noticias suggested that the web page of the Defensoría would soon publish a chronology of the attacks with graphic proofs. Ramírez has sent links through Twitter to several pictures that she claims are of damaged CDIs. In a national cadena at noon on April 23, Ramírez’s declarations against PROVEA were repeated, accompanied by images of CDIs allegedly burned. The images of the claimed attacks can be seen at the web page of the Defensoría del Pueblo.
Yesterday human rights NGOs Provea and Homo et Natura were summoned to appear in court on February 7, 2013 for having facilitated a protest of the Yukpa indigenous people in July 2010. (See Provea’s press release here, and Marino Alvarado’s opinion piece here. Follow on Twitter with #JuicioContraProvea ) Provea suggest that the case demonstrates the continued criminalization of both citizen protest and the solidarity work of human rights groups.
The Yukpa of Western Venezuela have had long term struggle with the government over the process of creating indigenous homelands, as specified by the 2005 Law on Indigenous Peoples and Communities, as well as their right to control the exercise of justice in traditional tribal ways within their territory as specified in the 1999 Constitution (see Art. 260).
The latter struggle came to the fore as a result of violence between different Yukpa communities in October 2009 which led the arrest of indigenous leader Olegario Romero. In July 2010 some Yukpa representatives went to Caracas and camped out in front of the Supreme Court (TSJ) to demand their constitutional right to exercise tribal justice within their habitat. Romero was eventually absolved and released in May 2011.
[Moderator’s note: One week ago the Red de Apoyo para la Justicia y la Paz (Justice and Peace Support Network) published a statement on its webpage criticizing the Chávez government’s decision to withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This statement is significant for two reasons. First, over the past couple of years Red de Apoyo has worked closely with the Chávez government on police reform and arms control. Yet here it does not hesitate to make public its strong criticism of the government’s decision to withdraw from the Court. Second, while there have been several such critical statements by human rights groups (see the statement signed by WOLA here), this one is different insofar as it provides a sharply critical perspective on the performance of the Inter-American Commission and Court, underscoring the importance of the inter-American human rights system but also emphasizing the need for reforms. Below we provide a translation of the statement in its entirety.]
Red de Apoyo por la Justicia y la Paz
Our position on Venezuela’s exit from the I/A Court H.R.
August 20, 2012
On July 24 President of the Republic, Hugo Chávez, announced the withdrawal of Venezuela from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Considering the events that led to this decision, Red de Apoyo por la Justicia y la Paz, a Venezuelan organization the defends and promotes human rights and has worked for more than 28 years on behalf of victims of police and military abuses, has released its position. This position is premised on the search for justice, dignity, and respect for these victims.
Red de Apoyo regrets the National Government’s decision since it will result in further limitations for victims of human rights violations who wish to turn to international bodies for justice and reparation when they are unable to access national courts, or when decisions by these courts are delayed.
There is no doubt that the reduction of poverty has been a transcendent human rights issue during the Chávez government’s thirteen-year administration. The government has consistently used a discourse that highlights poverty and champions those stigmatized by it. Symbolically, all of the government’s policies center on constructing a dignified life for those most in need.
Evidence suggests this is more than just discourse; many poor people have in fact benefited from the government’s policies. However, this does not mean the poor’s quality of life has improved in Venezuela. Many different factors, a few of which will be analyzed here, indicate that rising above the poverty line does not necessarily imply improved life conditions.