The policy of repression aimed at silencing dissent and exercising social control in Venezuela remains in full force and effect and poses a constant and evident danger to civic space in the country, Amnesty International said in response to attacks by senior government and judicial representatives aimed at the opposition party’s primary election process held on 22 October 2023.
“The recent measures announced against the National Primaries Commission, its representatives and the results of the process are yet another example of the Venezuelan government’s policy of repression, which seeks to obstruct the freedoms of those who wish to exercise their right to participate in public affairs, as enshrined in international human rights treaties. For years, the Venezuelan government has been stifling civic space through stigmatization, harassment and criminalization of civil society and those perceived as being critical of the government. Actions taken by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, aligned with statements from state authorities, raise concerns over the widely reported possibility of arbitrary detentions. This policy of repression is nothing new and the international community must not step away from defending human rights in Venezuela,” said Ana Piquer, Americas director at Amnesty International.
“No-one must forget that both the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the UN International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela have concluded that there is reason to believe that Nicolás Maduro’s government has committed crimes against humanity. International scrutiny and international justice mechanisms are needed now more than ever to avoid a new escalation of crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations in Venezuela, especially during the recently commenced electoral period.”
For years, the Venezuelan government has been stifling civic space through stigmatization, harassment and criminalization of civil society and those perceived as being critical of the government.Ana Piquer, Americas director at Amnesty International
On 12 September, Amnesty International presented a report to the UN Human Rights Committee in which it observed that “human rights organizations in Venezuela have warned that pre-election and election periods have been directly associated with spikes in repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful demonstration, in particular through the use of the mechanism of political disqualification to prevent those perceived by the authorities as political opponents from running for elected office”.
In the report, Amnesty International urged the Venezuelan state to (1) remove all legal and de facto barriers to guaranteeing the effective political participation of all persons without discrimination, including on the basis of political opinion; (2) refrain from the discriminatory use of administrative disqualifications against candidates for elected office; and (3) end the use of mechanisms of persecution and/or criminalization against perceived political opponents wishing to participate in the public affairs of the country. The statements and actions announced since 22 October are in open contravention of all these recommendations, which Amnesty International again repeats.