27 de julio de 2016

Reporte 1 - Venezuela

Freedom of association:

Freedom of association is being seriously threatened by the Venezuelan government. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its concern on a press release from June 1st, 2016 following the declaration of a “State of Exception and Economic Emergency” in Venezuela. The decree released by the government states that funding for civil society organizations can be restricted when it is used to pursue political goals that might destabilize the country. This leaves a grey area that government can use to restrict freedom of association.

On the other hand, during an interview conducted by REDLAD to a leader of an CSO, he stated that, even though the government is consistently restricting freedom of association, civil society has come together to work for common demands like democracy or transparency. This is creating a more unified civil society that is slowly opening civic space in Venezuela.

Freedom of peaceful assembly:
Venezuelan government has been systematically oppressing civil society protests using both counter-protests and police force. IACHR expressed its rejection against the government repression of a protest that took place on June 2nd, 2016 of people that were demanding the government to end the lack of food on the country. Police repression included the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters who used looting as a form of showing rejection to the situation of the country.

Following these protests, on June 14th, another series of protests demanding the same issues took place. This protests were also repressed by police officers and two people were reported dead.

Government decision to repress protests has been left clear after Zulia’s Secretary of Security and Public Order declared that they won’t doubt in repress any protest that pursue political objectives.

Freedom of expression:
Journalists and actors of civil society are at high-risk in Venezuela. On January 19th, 2016, journalist Ricardo Duran was murdered in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. Police investigations showed that none of his personal belongings were stolen following his murder. The case is still open but journalists state that it was because of his work as a reporter.

On March 11th, the Sixth Criminal Trial Court for the State of Bolivar, convicted David Natera Febres, from Correo del Caroní newspaper, for defamation offenses against a State’s contractor. The sentence was based on a 2013 article from Natera Febres who reported a case of extortion and bribery from the Military Counterintelligence Bureau.

During the protests on June 2nd, journalists reported that police officers took their filming materials and cellphones after they identified that they were covering the repression against protesters. Other ways in which Venezuelan government restricts freedom of expression include fines against media and restricting operation of broadcasting companies like NTN24.

Press notes:

Official documents: