Annual Report: Venezuela 2013

May 29, 2013

Annual Report: Venezuela 2013

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  • In May, Marianela Sánchez Ortiz of the Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons (Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones, OVP) was threatened. Her husband, Hernán Antonio Bolívar, was abducted at gunpoint and told to warn his wife to stop complaining about prison conditions and criticizing the government, or she and her family would face reprisals. Government officials also accused the OVP of falsifying information about prisons in order to receive money from US funders.


  • In December, Jorge Antonio Barrios was assassinated in Aragua state. He was the ninth member of the Barrios family to be killed since 1998 in circumstances suggesting police involvement. The killings continued despite decisions since 2004 by the inter-American human rights system ordering Venezuela to ensure protection for the family and to bring those responsible to justice.

Independence of the judiciary

  • Judge María Lourdes Afiuni remained under house arrest throughout 2012. In September, unidentified gunmen drove past the building where she lives and opened fire, aiming towards her apartment. In November, she disclosed publicly that she had been raped while in jail. Judge Afiuni was detained in December 2009 and remained imprisoned for over a year. She was charged with offences including corruption, abuse of authority and association to commit a crime. She had ordered the conditional release of a banker who had been held in custody awaiting trial for more than two years, a decision within her remit and in line with Venezuelan law.

International scrutiny

In May, President Chávez, with the support of the National Assembly and the Supreme Court, announced plans to withdraw from the inter-American human rights system. In September, Venezuela officially removed itself as a signatory of the American Convention on Human Rights, thereby initiating its withdrawal from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. As a result, victims of human rights violations will be barred from September 2013 from bringing complaints before the highest court in the Americas. However, Venezuela will remain a member of the OAS and so will be subject to monitoring by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Violence against women and girls

The Law on the Right of Women to Live Free of Violence continued to lack a regulatory framework that establishes guidelines on how the authorities should handle cases of violence against women.

  • Hearings were held in the case of Alexandra Hidalgo, who was raped and tortured by a group of men, among them her husband, in 2004. In October it was decided that her husband would stand trial for her kidnapping and rape.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Venezuela in April.
  • Carta abierta a los candidatos y las candidatas presidenciales de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela (AMR 53/006/2012)
  • Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's candidacy for election to the UN Human Rights Council: Open letter (AMR 53/008/2012)