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Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Venezuela

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 14 April 2005
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Venezuela, 14 April 2005, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Smear campaign against human rights NGOs189

On 15 February 2004, during its weekly Sunday program Allô President, retransmitted on radio and television, the President of the Republic of Venezuela, Mr. Hugo Chávez Frías, made several statements about the funding of different human rights organisations. In particular, the President indicated that some of these organisations received money from the United States government through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a body that receives and distributes funds from the United States government and Congress. He thus claimed that the Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), an NGO with its headquarters in Washington, had received money from the NED to distribute or use in order to indoctrinate human rights NGOs in Venezuela, so that they would "attack and denounce the Venezuelan government within the Inter-American system of human rights." In his speech, the President also mentioned, among others, the Network in Support of Justice and Peace (Red de Apoyo por la Justicia y la Paz), the Committee of Parents of Victims (Comité de Familias de Víctimas del 27 de Febrero – COFAVIC) and the Venezuelan Programme for Education and Action in Human Rights (Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos – PROVEA).

Legal proceedings against members of Súmate190

On 30 September 2004, public Prosecutor Mrs. Luisa Ortega Díaz, from the 6th Bureau of the State Prosecutor's office, asked the court 41 of the metropolitan region of Caracas for the enforcement of measures denying freedom to Mrs. María Corina Machado, Mr. Alejandro Plas, Mr. Luis Enrique Palacios and Mr. Ricardo Esté, four leaders of the Súmate organisation. The Súmate organisation is a non-profit association that works to defend freedoms of expression and opinion, individual freedoms, as well as the full exercise of constitutional rights and responsibilities. In particular, this organisation produces a follow-up of electoral processes and published a critical report on the recent referendum to dismiss Mr. Chávez.

Mrs. María Corina Machado and Mr. Alejandro Plas were accused of "conspiracy against the Republic," a crime provided for in article 132 of the Criminal Code, and Mr. Luis Enrique Palacios and Mr. Ricardo Esté were accused of complicity. In late 2004, the court had not yet made a ruling concerning these charges, but if confirmed, the four leaders of Súmate would be arrested.

On 2 November 2004, the Supreme Court of Justice (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia) ordered that the accused remain free during their trial, for which the preliminary hearing would be determined by the court 41.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website ( was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

189. See Press Release, 19 February 2004.

190. See Urgent Appeal VEN 001/1004/OBS 076.

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