Social unrest increased; there were nearly twice as many protests between January and August as in the whole of 2008. The protests were sparked by issues such as discontent over labour rights and basic services, including a new education law opposed by the private education sector and the political opposition.
The National Assembly debated the possibility of legal reforms to regulate the use and possession of small arms, including harsher sentences for possession of weapons. According to the National Assembly's Security and Defence Commission, there were between nine and 15 million illegal firearms in circulation.
Reforms to the armed forces in October included provisions allowing the creation of militias.
Ten police officers charged with criminal offences in the context of the 2002 attempted coup against President Chávez were sentenced to up to 30 years' imprisonment in April. They were convicted of homicide and grievous bodily harm against anti-coup protesters amid concerns that not all of those who committed acts of violence in the context of the attempted coup had been brought to justice.
Journalists were harassed, intimidated and threatened. At least 34 radio stations had their licences revoked for non-compliance with statutory telecommunications regulations. However, as noted in August by the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the authorities' public statement that these stations "play[ed] at destabilizing Venezuela" indicated that their editorial stance could have been the actual reason behind the closure.
There was concern that a draft law which would criminalize the dissemination of information in media outlets which was "false" and could "harm the interest of the state" could undermine freedom of information and expression. The law remained before the National Assembly at the end of the year.
In August, staff at the Caracas offices of the television channel Globovisión were attacked by armed men. Teargas grenades were thrown and one of the security guards was beaten. Globovisión was widely regarded as opposing government policies. In January, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a ruling ordering the authorities to investigate reports of intimidation and physical and verbal attacks against Globovisión staff. No investigation had been initiated by the end of the year. Repression of dissent
Members of opposition political parties were harassed, threatened and intimidated, including by the use of spurious criminal charges. On several occasions the security forces failed to intervene when government supporters physically attacked suspected opponents.
Progress in the investigation and prosecution of cases of domestic violence remained slow. More courts and prosecutors' offices specializing in dealing with gender-based violence were established. However, the numbers remained insufficient to deal with the high volume of cases. The Public Prosecutor's Office in Caracas stated that it had received more than 12,000 complaints between January and August and that only half of those received could be dealt with.
In response to reports that at least 46 prisoners were killed and more than 70 injured in a violent incident inside the Los Llanos Penitentiary Centre (CEPELLA) in Guanare, Portuguesa state, yesterday, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:
As millions took to the streets to protest rampant violence, inequality, corruption and impunity, or were forced to flee their countries in search of safety, states across the Americas clamped …
Amnesty International will participate in public hearings on protests and security in Honduras and on limits of access to asylum in the United States, as well as side events on institutional violence and discrimination against women engaged in sex work in the Americas, and on women’s sexual and reproductive rights in Venezuela, during the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ 173rd Period of Sessions from September 23 to October 2 in Washington DC.
Selective extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and deaths and injuries caused by the excessive use of force by Nicolás Maduro’s government as part of a systematic and widespread policy of repression since at least 2017 may constitute crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International today in its new report on the events in Venezuela in late January 2019: Hungry for justice: crimes against humanity in Venezuela.
The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean must not impose barriers that hinder the entry of people fleeing the human rights crisis in Venezuela, nor return anyone to that country given the risk they run of suffering human rights violations, said Amnesty International today on the launch of its Welcome Venezuela campaign.
In the context of the arrival of international aid, and in response to multiple complaints of the use of force and attacks on demonstrators with firearms – including AK-type rifles …
In response to reports that at least a dozen people were killed in the context of the protests in Venezuela, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said: “Since the …
On Saturday, December 8, human rights organization Amnesty International USA in partnership with live music events startup Sofar Sounds will host a powerful evening of collective action along with an …
Women human rights defenders around the world are facing unprecedented levels of abuse, intimidation and violence, said Amnesty International as it launched its global Write for Rights campaign, in a …
Authorities in the Caribbean island of Curaçao, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, must protect people who are fleeing the human rights crisis in nearby Venezuela and put an end to the appalling conditions they face upon reaching Curaçao, said Amnesty International in a report published today.