Venezuela: Excessive use of force towards protestors exacerbates humanitarian crisis

Amnesty International emphasizes once again the obligation of the Venezuelan state to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest of all people in the country.

Yesterday, during protests organized by groups critical of the current government outside the Ombudsman’s office, security forces repressed protestors using tear gas and rubber bullets. As a result, there were reports of people injured and affected by the asphyxiating effects of the tear gas. Later in the day reports emerged of the death of a young student while protesting in the Altos Mirandinos area near the capital city.

In addition, there had been reports a few days earlier in the media of violence against students within the University of Carabobo campus which resulted in two students being shot.

“It is imperative that the Venezuelan authorities guarantee the right to freedom of expression and immediately stop the excessive use of force against those who are exercising their right to peaceful protest. Rather than using their resources to stubbornly persecute and repress those with differing opinions, the Venezuelan government should be focusing their efforts on solving the humanitarian crisis which is growing worse every day”,said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

It is imperative that the Venezuelan authorities guarantee the right to freedom of expression and immediately stop the excessive use of force against those who are exercising their right to peaceful protest. Rather than using their resources to stubbornly persecute and repress those with differing opinions, the Venezuelan government should be focusing their efforts on solving the humanitarian crisis which is growing worse every day
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

Amnesty International reiterates its deep concern over these incidents, particularly the varying calls from some state officials for the use of firearms against protestors critical of the government.

We call for the strong and unequivocal condemnation of violence on the part of pro-government armed groups in the context of the protests, and for security forces to guarantee that the protests which take place within the next few days can be carried out without restrictions or fear of repression. We also urge them not to use firearms to control political protests, or protests of any kind.