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Venezuela: Fear of torture

, Index number: AMR 53/017/1997

Yuraima Lara (f): This 22-year-old student was arbitrarily arrested on 16 October 1996 by members of the police in Sucre, state of Miranda. At the time she was distributing leaflets calling for students to protest against the political and economic situation. Amnesty International is concerned for her safety as she was reportedly beaten in the head and stomach at the headquarters of the security police in Caracas.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 53/17/97
EXTRA 141/97 Fear of torture 21 October 1997
VENEZUELAYuraima Lara (f), aged 22, student, member of left-wing organization,
Bandera Roja (Red Flag)
Yuraima Lara, a 22-year-old student at the Universidad Central de Venezuela,
Central University of Venezuela, was arbitrarily arrested on 16 October 1997
by members of the Policia del Municipio Sucre, Sucre Municipal Police, in the
state of Miranda. Concern for her safety has been heightened following brief
access to her on 18 October by a state attorney who stated that she had been
beaten in the head and stomach. She is currently held at the headquarters
of the security police, the Dirección de Servicios de Inteligencia y Prevención
(DISIP), Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services, in the capital,
Yuraima Lara was detained on the Avenida Principal de La Urbina in Petare,
to the west of Caracas while distributing leaflets calling for students to
protest against the political and economic situation. The police officers
allegedly accused her of disturbing the peace, though witnesses to her detention
denied that she had caused any disturbance. The police subsequently took her
to her family home which they raided without a search warrant. They took away
a photograph album and newspapers produced by Bandera Roja.
The family presented a complaint to the Fiscalía General de la República,
Attorney General’s Office, and contacted the Comisión Permanente de Política
Interior del Congreso, Congressional Commission on Internal Affairs. A call
from a member of this commission was able to establish that Yuraima Lara had
been transferred to the headquarters of the DISIP on the morning of 17 October.
Apart from a brief visit from the state attorney, others, including Yuraima
Lara’s family have so far been denied access.
Amnesty International has repeatedly complained to the Venezuelan authorities
about the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment, and about the lack of
safeguards provided to people held in preventive detention. By law, police
are allowed to hold a detainee in custody for up to eight days before they
need be presented to a judge. This is far in excess of what could be considered
safe to prevent conditions which facilitate the use of torture. Together with
the inoperability in practice of the writ of habeas corpus, detainees are left
almost completely at the mercy of those holding them. Amnesty International
believes the principal reason for the persistence of torture in Venezuela is
the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing serious concern about the arbitrary detention and reported
ill-treatment of Yuraima Lara;
- calling for her to be protected from any further ill-treatment, and for her
to have immediate access to an independent doctor and a lawyer of her choice;
- calling for her to be brought before a judge without further delay and that
unless charged with a recognizable offence she be immediately and
unconditionally released;
- urging a full and independent investigation into reports that she has been
ill-treated and that those responsible be brought to justice.
1) Minister of the Presidency
Doctor Asdrúbal Aguiar
Secretaría de la Presidencia
Palacio de Miraflores
Caracas, Venezuela
Faxes: +58 2 861 0793
Telegrams: Secretaría de la Presidencia, Caracas, Venezuela
Salutation: Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
2) Minister of the Interior
Dr. José Guillermo Andueza
Ministro de Relaciones Interiores
Ministerio de Relaciones Interiores
Carmelitas a Santa Capilla
Caracas, Venezuela
Telexes: 29694 MRI
Faxes: +58 2 861 1967
Telegrams: Ministro de Relaciones Interiores, Caracas, Venezuela
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
3) Attorney General
Dr Iván Darío Badell González
Fiscal General de la República
Esquina de Manduca a Ferrenquín,
Caracas, Venezuela
Faxes: +58 2 564 7461
Telegrams: Fiscal General, Caracas, Venezuela
Salutation: Sr. Fiscal General / Dear Attorney General
4) Head of the DISIP
General Aníbal Rivas Ostos
Director de la DISIP
Helicoide Roca Tarpeya
Puente Hierro
Caracas, Venezuela
Telegrams: Director, DISIP, Caracas, Venezuela
Salutation: Sr Director / Dear Director
1) Human Rights Organization
Sres., Red de Apoyo por la Justicia y la Paz
Apartado Postal No.17.476.
Parque Central
Caracas 1015-A
2) Daily newspaper
Sres. El Nacional
Puente Nuevo a Puerto Escondido,
Caracas, Venezuela
and to representatives of Venezuela accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 20 November 1997.

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