A recent armed attack on a human rights defender and his 9-year-old son in a raid on their home in Caracas must be a wake-up call to the Venezuelan government to immediately ensure the effective protection of human rights defenders, said Amnesty International today.
Marino Alvarado was attacked in his doorway as he arrived home with his son on 1 October, according to local rights group Provea. Three unknown attackers forced their way into the building brandishing 9mm calibre firearms and hitting Marino Alvarado on the head. In the 40 minute ordeal, they bound him and his son, raiding the apartment from which they took two laptops, a tablet, two phones, a camera and cash.
“This appalling attack on Marino Alvarado and his child is only the latest in a disturbing string of attacks against human rights defenders in Venezuela,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Americas.
“This attack comes in the wake of deplorable public announcements by high-ranking authorities specifically targeting human rights defenders. They must stop publicly inflaming an already highly polarized situation, discrediting human rights defenders and putting them at greater risk.”
President Nicolas Maduro and other high-ranking officials have on several occasions made declarations on Venezuelan national television targeting human rights organizations such as Provea, a human rights network formerly run by Marino Alvarado.
On August 21, President Maduro specifically accused Provea of being a right-wing organization funded by the USA and pointed the finger at Alvarado, referring to him as an “informant.”
In July, United Nations and Inter-American human rights experts denounced the systematic targeting of human rights defenders on Venezuela’s state-controlled television as attempts to discredit and intimidate human rights defenders.
While Marino Alvarado required stitches to his head, he and his son emerged relatively unscathed from the attack.
“The Venezuelan government must stop making such vitriolic attacks against human rights defenders who suffer violence, harassment and intimidation simply for standing up in defence of human rights,” said Guadalupe Marengo.
“President Maduro must immediately launch an independent and thorough investigation on this attack and send a clear message that such attacks will not be tolerated.”