Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Venezuela
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 March 2007|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Venezuela, 14 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cdf23.html [accessed 26 January 2015]|
Assassination of Mr. Jesús Alberto Fernández219
On October 15, 2006, Mr. Jesús Alberto Fernández, a peasant leader who occupied, along with 25 other families, the farm of Colibrí, Catatumbo municipality, State of Zulia, was murdered by two individuals on motorbikes as he was on his way to a meeting of the Bello Horizonte XV cooperative, of which he was member.
In the past, Mr. Fernández had received death threats on several occasions by the owner of the farm, Mr. Marcos Tulio González.
Acts of harassment and assassination attempt against Mrs. María del Rosario Guerrero Galucci and her husband220
In September 2006, Mrs. María del Rosario Guerrero Galucci, a member of the human rights organisation "Soldiers of Justice, Peace and Freedom on Crusade Against Impunity" (Soldados de Justicia, Paz y Libertad en Cruzada Contra la Impunidad), was targeted by a defamation campaign led by the Governor of the State of Guárico, Mr. Eduardo Manuitt, and by several members of the National Assembly. In particular, they accused her of having planned the death of Mr. Eduardo Rivas Alejo, a farmer in the State of Guárico. This campaign was relayed in regional newspapers such as El Nacionalista and La Antena, and on the Internet, notably on the official website of the Guárico State government.
Moreover, on April 21, 2006, police officers of the State of Guárico went to the home of Mrs. María del Rosario Guerrero Galucci and her husband, Mr. Adolfo Segundo Martínez B., in Aragua, and shot at them, leaving them both injured. This attack followed their denunciation of acts of extortion allegedly committed by members of the Guárico police.
On April 27, 2006, the Human Rights Centre of the Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB), the Venezuelan Prisons' Observatory (Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones – OVP) and the Venezuelan Programme of Action-Education for Human Rights (Programa Venezolano de Educación – Acción en Derechos Humanos – PROVEA) asked the IACHR to grant precautionary protective measures to the couple. On July 4, 2006, the IACHR requested the Venezuelan government to grant them these measures.
As of the end of 2006, these protective measures were being implemented and ensured by the Direction of Intelligence and Prevention Services (Dirección de los Servicios de Intelegencia y Prevención – DISIP), but Mrs. del Rosario had to pay part of the costs of her protection, which was reported to the IACHR by PROVEA.
In addition, on December 14, 2006, Mrs. del Rosario was summoned to appear before the 13th Criminal Court of First Instance of the metropolitan area of Caracas, supposedly to coordinate the implementation of these protection measures. Mrs. del Rosario was in fact given a warning for having resorted to the Inter-American human right protection system. She subsequently filed a complaint.
Judicial harassment against Mr. Luís Rafael Escobar Ugas221
Since June 1, 2006, Mr. Luís Rafael Escobar Ugas, director of the Foundation for Guarantees, Prevention and Protection of Human Rights (Fundación para las Garantías, Prevención y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos), in Caracas, has been targeted by four different sets of proceedings. In the first case, he was charged with having provoked a hunger strike in the "San Juan de Lagunillas" detention centre of Mérida, in 2006. In a second case, "defamation" charges were brought against him by Mr. Pablo Daniel Medina Cornivelli, a lieutenant-colonel of the National Guard (GN), whom Mr. Ugas accused of being the supposed perpetrator of the enforced disappearance of another GN lieutenant. Mr. Escobar Ugas was also charged with having led the occupation of the Dom Camilo building in Caracas by squatters. Indeed, on June 3, 2006, he was arrested during a police operation seeking to evict the unwanted occupants from the building, to whom Mr. Escobar Ugas was simply giving his support. He was then remanded in custody in the "Zone 7" of the metropolitan police. Lastly, he was put on trial on charges of "obstruction of justice".
On July 6, 2006, Court 22 of Caracas held a preliminary hearing following his arrest. The Court ordered an extension of his preventive detention. However, Mr. Escobar Ugas was released on July 10, 2006.
As of the end of 2006, judicial proceedings were still pending.
Obstacles to freedom of association222
On June 13, 2006, the National Assembly of Venezuela approved at first reading a Bill on International Cooperation, which establishes a new judicial framework regulating, inter alia, the running of local and international NGOs operating in the country. The Bill notably provides for the establishment of administrative and financial bodies aimed at organising and supervising the execution, follow-up and evaluation of the policies, actions and activities carried out by the Venezuelan State in the field of international cooperation.
The provisions of this Bill would thus allow the regulation and control of NGOs objectives, activities and financing, which could lead to arbitrary restrictions on their international sources of funding.
Chapter 3 of the Bill entails provisions regarding the registration of NGOs with the State authorities, which could interfere with, or even seriously hinder, their independence and/or the normal pursuit of their activities. Lastly, the Bill would also significantly restrict the access to overseas grants as the authorities have accused NGOs of raising foreign funds to finance anti-government activities. This Bill is thus likely to have been drafted in order to control civil society and the activities of NGOs.
The Bill had not yet been adopted by the end of 2006.
[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.]
219. See Venezuelan Programme of Action-Education for Human Rights (PROVEA), Informe Anual sobre la Situación de los Derechos Humanos en Venezuela, octubre-noviembre de 2006, December 2006.
222. See Open Letter to the Venezuelan authorities, July 11, 2006.