Human Rights Watch reports abuse of power by Venezuelan gov't
Under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez, both the accumulation of power and the weakening of human rights guarantees have allowed the Venezuelan Government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute Venezuelans who criticize or oppose to the president or his political agenda, highlighted Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its annual report on human rights
Under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez, both the accumulation of power and the weakening of human rights guarantees have allowed the Venezuelan Government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute Venezuelans who criticize or oppose to the president or his political agenda, the reports stated.
Chávez and his political supporters have relied on their power in different opportunities, thus negatively affecting the judicial branch, mass media, and human rights defenders, the report explained.
Although criticism of the Venezuelan Government continues, fear to retaliation has undermined judges' capacity to render rulings in cases with serious political implications, HRW added.
Similarly, journalists and human rights advocates have had no other choice but to weigh ponder the consequences of releasing information and critical opinions on the government, the organization remarked.
The report also stated that Chávez's government has extended and misused power to regulate mass media. Although criticism of the government continues in some media, in some others there is widespread self-censorship, in an attempt to avoid government retaliation.
Further, the report criticized the fact that Venezuela decided to withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) through denunciation of the American Convention on Human Rights last September.
The organization regretted Venezuela's refusal to welcome international human rights observers.
HRW also expressed deep concerns about the level of violence in Venezuelan prisons and the significant number of police abuses. The report was released a few days after a new violent event in Uribana prison, northwest Venezuela, where 58 people died and over 95 were injured.
As late as Tuesday, February 25, there was some visible response from Gabriela Ramírez's office. Representatives of the Office of the Ombudswoman would visit independent human rights watch groups to find what happened in connection with repression of protests. That day, they visited NGO Provea. The next day, they met with the attorneys of NGO Venezuelan Criminal Forum. They pursued specific data because -they argued- no claims of human rights violations of demonstrators had been filed with the Office of the Ombudswoman.