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Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Venezuela

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 22 March 2006
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Venezuela, 22 March 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cba15.html [accessed 25 April 2014]
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.

Harassment and threats against OVP and its coordinator Mr. Humberto Prado Sifontes220

The Observatory of Prisons in Venezuela (Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones – OVP) and its coordinator, Mr. Humberto Prado Sifontes, were victims of a defamation campaign because of their defence of the rights of prisoners, most of whom went on hunger strike to demand that the reforms aimed at the improvement of the penitentiary system, introduced on 18 November 2004, be duly implemented.

On 18 January 2005, a protest action against OVP was announced. However, only 15 people, including employees of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice, attended near OVP headquarters; two of them agreed to meet with Mr. Humberto Prado. This meeting revealed that the demonstrators did not know why they were protesting, as confirmed by one woman who explained that she had joined the group because she had been told that OVP would help her detained son.

Furthermore, on 20 January 2005, a woman called OVP to say that the Chief Prosecutor for the State of Lara intended to engage judicial proceedings against Mr. Prado for his alleged involvement in the prisoners' demonstrations. Other persons also called to warn against a conspiracy against OVP and said that its members should "be careful". Then, on 22 January 2005, two of Miranda State's regional newspapers, El Avance and La Región, stated that Mr. Prado had encouraged the conflicts in the region's prisons.

On 1 November 2005, during a press conference and in his Ministry's official bulletin, Mr. Jess Chacón, Minister of the Interior and Justice, announced to the media that Mr. Humberto Prado Sifontes was facing two criminal investigations and accused him of having violated the rights of the prisoners of the Capital District's Yare I detention centre, when he was its director in 1997. However, by the end of 2005, Mr. Sifontes had still not been informed about any such charges nor of any judicial action against him.

These further public accusations followed Mr. Humberto's participation in IACHR hearings, during which he presented a report on the human rights situation of Venezuelan prisoners.

OVP lodged a complaint against Mr. Jess Chacón for harassment and insults towards Mr. Humberto Prado. However, by the end of 2005, no judicial inquiry had been opened.

Judicial proceedings against Mr. Carlos Ayala Corao221

On 5 April 2005, Mr. Carlos Ayala Corao, a lawyer and president of the Andean Commission of Jurists (Comisión Andina de Juristas), as well as IACHR president in 1998-1999, was summoned to testify at an inquiry led by the Sixth Prosecutor with National Jurisdiction for the Public Ministry (Fiscalía Sexta con Competencia Nacional del Ministerio Público). He was not informed about the reason behind the summons.

The hearing was postponed until 14 April 2005, when the Public Ministry charged Mr. Ayala Corao with "conspiracy" due to his alleged participation in the writing of the Constitutional Act of the Government for Democratic Transition and National Unity (Acta de Constitución del Gobierno de Transición Democrática y Unidad Nacional). A businessman, Mr. Pedro Carmona Estanga, had used this Act to attempt to dissolve the government on 12 April 2002 in a coup d'état, and had declared himself President of Venezuela.

Assassination of and attempted assassination against several peasant leaders222

– On 19 March 2005, Mr. Luis Enrique Pérez, leader of the National Front of Peasants "Ezequiel Zamora" (Frente Nacional Campesino "Ezequiel Zamora"), was assassinated on the orders of a landowner who had threatened him with death several months earlier, along with four other peasants.

– On 23 June 2005, in the community of Sabana de Parra, Peña del Edo municipality (Yaracuy), several armed men attempted to assassinate Mr. Braulio Álvarez, a peasant leader and a member of the Yaracuy State Legislative Council.

– On 2 July 2005, unknown men shot at Mr. José Gregorio Rivas, leader of the Cieneguito Cooperative in del Edo, Zulia. Mr. Rivas was wounded by three bullets during an attack on the peasant community of Roca Firme, Sucre city, claiming land in the name of the Machado Aguilar farm.


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

220. See Urgent Appeal VEN 001/0105/OBS 008.

221. See Urgent Appeal VEN 002/0405/OBS 025.

222. See Venezuelan Programme for Education and Action in Human Rights (PROVEA), Situación de los derechos humanos en Venezuela, Informe anual octubre 2004 – septiembre 2005, December 2005.

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