Venezuela: Election-related deaths and threats must stop

Violent incidents around Venezuela following last Sunday’s presidential elections are only likely to increase unless the authorities carry out prompt, effective investigations and bring those responsible to justice, Amnesty International said. According to Venezuela’s Attorney General, at least seven people have died, 61 have been injured and 135 detained after the published election results indicated a narrow victory for standing Vice-President Nicolás Maduro. Amnesty International has also received reports of attacks on media workers, political and social activists, human rights defenders and people involved in political events or protests, both in the lead-up to and after the elections.“The violent incidents Venezuela has seen in the last two weeks are very worrying – the authorities have a duty to guarantee everyone the right to political participation and peaceful protest, as well as to ensure the security forces comply with international standards to maintain public order and contain potential violent acts,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International. “It’s also essential that adequate protection is offered to members of the media and civil society organizations who have been targeted by attacks, so they can carry on their legitimate work of informing the wider population and monitoring the human rights situation in the country without fear of reprisals.”Last month, ahead of Venezuela’s elections, Amnesty International sent a letter to all the candidates, pointing out the right of everyone in Venezuela to organize and take part in peaceful protests. “The Venezuelan authorities have a duty to promote, protect and respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as recognized under international law and Venezuela’s Constitution,” said Marengo. “This includes a right to participate in peaceful demonstrations against policies, laws or actions of the government in power.”