• Campagnes

Venezuela: Arbitrary arrest / fear for safety

, N° d'index: AMR 53/006/1996

Jorge Nieves, human rights defender, Leticia Echenique (f), human rights defender: AI is alarmed at the arbitrary arrest of the above, members of a non-governmental human rights organization based in Guasdualito, state of Apure, and is seriously concerned about their safety and that of other members of the Comite para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CODEHUM). Guasdualito is within the so-called border security zones, where several constitutional guarantees remain suspended and security operations are under the command of the army. They were detained on 29 July at the local police intelligence agency, when they went to enquire about the conditions of detention of Silvano Rivero. Following their detention, the home of Jorge Nieves was raided without a warrant by the police.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 53/06/96
UA 191/96 Arbitrary arrest/fear for safety 30 July 1996
VENEZUELA Jorge Nieves, human rights defender
Leticia Echenique (f), human rights defender
Amnesty International is alarmed at the arbitrary arrest of Jorge Nieves and
Leticia Echenique, members of the Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos
(CODEHUM), a non-governmental human rights organization based in Guasdualito,
state of Apure, and is seriously concerned abut their safety and that of other
members of their organization. Guasdualito is within the so-called "zonas de
seguridad fronteriza", border security zones, where several constitutional
guarantees remain suspended and security operations are under the command of
the Venezuelan army.
Jorge Nieves and Leticia Echenique were detained on 29 July at the local office
of the Dirección de Inteligencia y Prevención (DISIP), a police intelligence
agency, when they went to enquire about the conditions of detention of Silvano
Rivero, who had been held in that office since 28 July. Following their
detention, the home of Jorge Nieves was raided without a warrant by the police.
According to the local police, both human rights defenders were detained
because their names had appeared on a list of people allegedly conspiring to
undermine the security of the state. Reportedly, no charges have been brought
against either of them. Amnesty International has well-founded fears for their
safety. Earlier this month, representatives of CODEHUM presented a report
of human rights violations by the security forces to a visiting Amnesty
International delegation. Amnesty International believes that the detention
of Jorge Nieves and Leticia Echenique may be in retaliation for this.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International (AI) has expressed increasing concern about gross human
rights violations by the Venezuelan security forces in vast areas bordering
with Colombia. Between 13 and 21 July, an Amnesty International delegation,
headed by its Secretary General, visited the country to present a memorandum
addressed to President Rafael Caldera which summarized the organization's
concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country,
especially in the areas bordering with Colombia, defined as "zonas de seguridad
fronteriza". During the visit, AI representatives met with several Venezuelan
human rights organizations, which support AI's concerns. The human rights
defenders participating in that meeting described the increasing pressure they
feel and even threats they are suffering from local authorities as a result
of their work. Among those present were representatives of CODEHUM, which
updated the organization on the sharp increase in serious human rights
violations by the security forces, including dozens of recent cases of torture,
in Guasdualito and other areas of Apure. They also reported recent incidents
of threats against their members by local authorities.
Amnesty International's memorandum was not well received by some authorities.
José Guillermo Andueza, the Interior Minister, accused AI's Secretary General
of "defending Colombian interests", and General Raúl Salazar Rodríguez, in
charge of military operations in the region, completely refuted AI's concerns.
Amnesty International is extremely concerned that these statements may
indicate a lack of willingness by the authorities to stop human rights violations
and ensure full investigations about well-documented abuses committed by the
2
security forces. Moreover, the organization is seriously concerned at the
arbitrary detention of human rights defenders working in the region bordering
Colombia, who appear to be the last and only recourse of the local population
against human rights violations.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing alarm about the arbitrary detention of Jorge Nieves and Leticia
Echenique, apparently solely as a result of their work as human rights defenders,
and your serious concern for their safety;
- calling for their immediate and unconditional release, and seeking assurances
of their physical integrity and security;
- calling for assurances that human rights defenders, their work and
organizations will be fully respected by the authorities, in Guasdualito as
well as throughout the rest of the Venezuelan territory;
- urging that full investigations be carried out into the arbitrary detention
of Jorge Nieves and Leticia Echenique, and into the threats against other members
of CODEHUM, and for those responsible to be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO
President of the Republic
Dr. Rafael Caldera
Presidente de la República
Palacio Miraflores
Caracas, Venezuela
Telegrams: Presidente Caldera, Venezuela
Telexes: 21161 MIRAF VC
Fax: + 582 861 0793
Salutation: Sr. Presidente / Dear President
Interior Minister
Ministro de Relaciones Interiores
Dr. José Guillermo Andueza
Ministerio de Relaciones Interiores
Carmelitas a Santa Capilla
Caracas, Venezuela
Fax: + 582 812 890
Telegram; Ministro Interior, Caracas, Venezuela
Salutation: Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
Minister of Defence
General Pedro Nicolás Valencia Vivas
Ministro de Defensa
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Fuerte Tiuna, Conejo Blanco
El Valle, Caracas, Venezuela
Telegrams: Ministro de Defensa, Caracas, Venezuela
Faxes: + 582 662 8829
Salutation: Sr. Ministro de Defensa / Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Red de Apoyo
Edif. Caroata, Nivel Oficina 2, Of. 220
3
Parque Central, Caracas, Venezuela
Tel/fax: (582) 5741949 and 5748005
and to diplomatic representatives of Venezuela accredited
to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Please contact the
International Secretariat, of your section office, if sending
appeals after 10 September 1996.

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