Venezuela: Detentions on the rise amid “witch-hunt” against opposition

The most recent wave of arrests of leaders and members of an opposition party point to a systematic pattern of abuses against those who dare to express an opinion contrary to that of the government, Amnesty International said today.

Between January 11 and 12, MP Gilber Caro, member of the opposition political party Voluntad Popular, along with council members Roniel Farias, Jorge Gonzalez and political activists Stacy Escalona and Irwin Roca, were deprived of liberty after high level authorities who linked these leaders with Lilian Tintori, wife of the prisoner of conscience Leopoldo López, publicly accused them of carrying out "terrorist activities".

"It looks like the government of President Maduro continues with its witch hunt against anyone who dares to voice an opinion contrary to his policies. The use of absurd conspiratorial arguments to justify irregular detentions demonstrates Venezuela's lack of commitment to the promotion and protection of the basic human rights of all people in the country," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Director of Amnesty International for the Americas.

"The Venezuelan authorities must guarantee the procedural rights of detained people, in particular the right to be taken before civilian judges under reliable charges and evidence in an expedited time, as well as immediate access to their relatives and legal representatives.”

"Instead of persecuting those who think differently, the Venezuelan government must focus its efforts on finding effective and fair solutions to overcome the serious humanitarian and human rights crisis affecting the population."

Amnesty International urges the Venezuelan authorities to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and public and peaceful assembly, without discrimination of any kind.