Human rights in Venezuela
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The record of human rights in Venezuela has been criticized by human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others. Concerns include attacks against journalists, harassment of human rights defenders, poor prison conditions, and extrajudicial executions by death squads. According to the Human Rights Watch report of 2017 under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez and now President Nicolás Maduro, the accumulation of power in the executive branch and erosion of human rights guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, persecute, and even criminally prosecute its critics.
The report added that other persistent concerns include poor prison conditions, impunity for human rights violations, and continuous harassment by government officials of human rights defenders and independent media outlets. The report continues that in 2016, the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) detained dozens of people on allegations of planning, fomenting, or participating in violent anti-government actions, including some that were, in fact, peaceful protests. Many say they have been tortured or otherwise abused in custody, or that they were unable to see their families or lawyers for hours, occasionally days, after an arrest. In several cases, prosecutors failed to present any credible evidence linking the accused to crimes. In some, the evidence included possession of political materials, including pamphlets calling for the release of political prisoners. According to the Amnesty International report from 2016/2017 human rights defenders continued to be targeted with attacks and intimidation by state media and high-ranking government officials.
Since 2014, the enduring crisis in Venezuela has resulted in hyperinflation, an economic depression, shortages of basic goods and drastic increases in unemployment, poverty, disease, child mortality, malnutrition and crime. According to the Amnesty International, the crisis in Venezuela has reached a “breaking point”, with 75% of citizens suffering from weight loss due to shortage of food. According to the International Monetary Fund, unemployment rate has reached 34.3%.
In 2006, Economist Intelligence Unit rated Venezuela as a "hybrid regime" with an index of 5.42 out of 10. The country was ranked 93 out of 167 countries, and the third least democratic in Latin America after Cuba and Haiti. In the 2012 report, the country's index had detoriated to 5.15 and its ranking to 95 out of 167. During the presidency of Nicolás Maduro, the country's democracy has detoriated further, with the 2017 report downgrading Venezuela from a hybrid regime to an authoritarian regime, the lowest category, with an index of 3.87 (the second lowest in Latin America), reflecting "Venezuela’s continued slide towards dictatorship as the government has side-lined the opposition-dominated National Assembly, jailed or disenfranchised leading opposition politicians and violently suppressed opposition protests."
- 1 Legal framework
- 2 History
- 3 Civil and political rights
- 3.1 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- 3.2 Press freedom
- 3.3 Administration of justice
- 3.4 Political prisoners in Venezuela
- 3.5 Human trafficking
- 3.6 Agrarian violence
- 3.7 Prison system
- 3.8 Violence by authorities and extrajudicial killings
- 4 Economic, social and cultural rights
- 5 Relationships with international actors
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Soon after President Chávez was first elected, a national referendum was called in April 1999 in which 92% of voters favored drafting a new constitution. The constitution was drafted by an elected assembly with the participation of diverse citizens' groups, and was voted on later that year in another national referendum and approved with 71.8% support among voters. The new constitution of Venezuela sought to secure a wider range of human rights, such as health care as a human right. It also created an Office of the Public Defender, which includes the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office. Of the 350 articles in the 1999 constitution, 116 are dedicated to duties, human rights, and guarantees, including a chapter on the rights of indigenous peoples.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Human Rights Committee)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
Massacre of El Amparo
The Massacre of El Amparo was a massacre of 14 fishermen that took place near the village of El Amparo, in Venezuela's western state of Apure, on 29 October 1988. A joint military-police unit claimed the fishermen (who had no police records and were not known to either Venezuelan or Colombian military intelligence) were a group of guerillas who attacked them with guns and grenades, with an alleged 15–20-minute exchange of gunfire occurring at a range of 20–30 m. A case taken to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) concluded in 1996, with the IACHR ordering Venezuela to pay over $700,000 in reparations to next of kin and surviving victims.
One of the six cases brought against Venezuela by the IACHR between 1977 and 1998 related to the 1989 Caracazo, which successive Venezuelan governments failed to investigate, despite requests from human rights groups such as Amnesty International, and instructions from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In July 2009, then-defence minister Italo del Valle Alliegro was charged in relation to the Caracazo.
With increasing instability of the political system in the face of economic crisis, Venezuela saw two coup attempts in 1992; one of which was led by future president Hugo Chávez. Both failed, and in the process of resisting the coup attempts, government agents were reported to have killed forty people, both civilians and surrendered rebels, either as extrajudicial executions, or through the use of disproportionate force.
Arbitrary detentions numbered in the hundreds and continued for some time after the events, and involved student leaders and other civic leaders not connected with the coup attempts. Freedom of expression was suspended for two months in the February case, and three weeks in the November case, and involved censorship of the media. A series of demonstrations in March and April calling for the resignation of President Carlos Andrés Pérez and the restoration of constitutional guarantees were met with state violence including indiscriminate police firing into crowds, with a total of 13 deaths.
A number of members of the press covering the protests were severely injured by police. Although participants in the February coup attempt were tried under the regular military justice system, in response to the November coup attempt the government created ad hoc courts based on the 1938 legal code of Eleazar López Contreras, drawn up twenty years before the transition to democracy. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled the courts unconstitutional, but on the grounds that the President had neglected to suspend the relevant constitutional rights (right to a defence, right to be tried by one's natural judge) rather than on the due process grounds for which they were criticised.
During the 1989–1993 Perez period the violent repression of protest was commonplace, with one of every three demonstrations repressed. During the Caldera administration it fell, and toward the middle of this the proportion of demonstrations repressed had fallen to one of every six.
Shortly after Hugo Chávez's election, ratings for freedom in Venezuela dropped according to political and human rights group Freedom House. In 2004, Amnesty International criticized President Chavez's administration's handling of the 2000 coup, saying that violent incidents "have not been investigated effectively and have gone unpunished" and that "impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators encourages further human rights violations in a particularly volatile political climate". Amnesty International also criticized the Venezuelan National Guard and the Direccion de Inteligencia Seguridad y Prevención (DISIP) stating that they "allegedly used excessive force to control the situation on a number of occasions" during protests involving the 2004 Venezuela recall. It was also noted that many of the protesters detained seemed to not be "brought before a judge within the legal time limit".
In 2005, Central University of Venezuela professors Margarita López Maya and Luis Lander, stated there was a "greater recognition of the right to protest, and this has been institutionalized." The violent repression of demonstrations fell to 1 in 25 in 1998–99, and to 1 in 36 by 2002-3. However, in 2008, Venezuela was ranked as the least democratic nation in South America in the 2008 Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index. Also in 2008, Freedom House removed Venezuela from its list of countries that have an electoral democracy. By 2009, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released a report stating that Venezuela's government practiced "repression and intolerance".
According to the United Nations, there were 31,096 complaints of human rights violations received between the years 2011 and 2014. Of the 31,096, 3.1% resulted in only in an indictment by the Venezuelan Public Ministry.
In 2011, NGO PROVEA criticized the fact that the government party PSUV selected as candidate for congress Róger Cordero Lara, who was militarily involved in the Cantaura massacre in 1982. Cordero was elected and PROVEA demanded his immunity be lifted.
In Freedom House's report on the year 2013, President Nicolás Maduro's government was criticized for "an increase in the selective enforcement of laws and regulations against the opposition in order to minimize its role as a check on government power", which gave Venezuela's freedom rating a downward trend.
2014 Venezuelan protests
During the 2014 Venezuelan protests, multiple human rights organizations condemned the Venezuelan government for its handling of the protests as security forces had reportedly gone beyond typical practices of handling protests, with methods ranging from the use of rubber pellets and tear gas to instances of live ammunition and torture of arrested protestors, according to organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Other problems during the protests included media censorship and government tolerance of violence by pro-government militant groups known as colectivos. Venezuela's government has also been accused of politically-motivated arrests of opponents, most notably former Chacao mayor and leader of Popular Will, Leopoldo López, who surrendered himself in February, responding to controversial charges of murder and inciting violence, using his arrest to protest the government's "criminalization of dissent."
In December 2014, the United States signed Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 to impose targeted sanctions on Venezuelan individuals responsible for human rights violations as a result of the 2014 Venezuelan protests. The law allows the freezing of assets and visa bans for those accused of using acts of violence or violating the human rights of those opposing the Venezuelan government. In March 2015, the United States froze assets and revoked visas of several senior officials connected to human rights abuses in Venezuela; these sanctions were condemned in Latin America.
UN Committee Against Torture
In November 2014, Venezuela appeared before the United Nations Committee Against Torture over cases between 2002 and 2014. UN experts were dissatisfied with the Venezuelan government's delegation that was led by Deputy Interior Security Law and Policy, José Vicente Rangel Avalos and questions asked by the UN Committee were not answered accurately by him. In the five-year-old case of Judge María Lourdes Afiuni Mora, a Venezuelan delegate stated, "The prosecution did not receive complaints about the alleged rape told in a book. We suggest to the committee, why worry?", to which a member of the UN commission replied "It's very important and very serious, because it transcends the individual, affects the concept of the judiciary and the rule of law if this had happened in another country." Experts of multiple NGOs also criticized the Venezuelan governments record with human rights, with one expert stating that "only 12 public officials have been convicted of violations of human rights in the last decade that in the same period have been more than 5,000 complaints". Experts also criticized the Venezuelan National Commission for the Prevention of Torture for not being independent from the government, questioned the actions of doctors and forensic experts who examined victims and asked about the judicial system's independence from other bodies of the Venezuelan government.
On 28 November, the United Nations Committee Against Torture expressed "alarm" due to the reports of abuse by Venezuelan authorities during the 2014 Venezuelan protests. According to the UN committee, allegations of torture included "beatings, burnings and electric shocks in efforts to obtain confessions". The committee also called on more thorough investigations by the Venezuelan government since of the 185 investigations for abuses during the protests, only 5 had been charged. Other issues presented by the committee included the release of Leopoldo López and former mayor Daniel Ceballos from prison, which the UN committee urged.
On 11 March 2015 at a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, UN rapporteur on torture and other degrading treatment, Juan E. Méndez, stated that the Bolivarian government failed to respond to multiple requests for information to which Méndez said, "In this case Venezuela did not respond, so I've drawn my conclusions based on the lack of response, but obviously on what I know of cases. And I concluded that the government violated the rights of prisoners". He also stated that the Maduro government did not comply "with the obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".
2017 Venezuelan protests
The United Nations Human Rights Office has denounced "widespread and systematic use of excessive force" against demonstrators, saying security forces and pro-government groups were responsible for the deaths of at least 73 protesters. UN rights office described "a picture of widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions against demonstrators in Venezuela". "Witness accounts suggest that security forces, mainly the national guard, the national police and local police forces, have systematically used disproportionate force to instil fear, crush dissent and to prevent demonstrators from assembling, rallying and reaching public institutions to present petitions".
In a 9 May 2017 letter, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stated that it "deplores the repressive measures taken by the Venezuelan authorities in response to the wave of protests that began in March in the country" and that it "calls on the State to cease these measures and to effectively fulfill its international human rights obligations." The IACHR was especially concerned with "the increase in deaths, injuries and mass detentions that has accompanied the militarization of the tasks of managing demonstrations" and expressed concern with the state of Leopoldo López's imprisonment.
The majority of individuals killed during protests died from gunshot wounds, with many resulting from the repression by Venezuelan authorities and assisting pro-government colectivos. A report by Human Rights Watch and Foro Penal documented at least six cases in which Venezuelan security forces raided residential areas and apartment buildings in Caracas and in four different states, usually near barricades built by residents; according to testimonies, officials bursted into houses without warrants, stealing personal belongings and food from residents, as well as beating and arresting them.
A report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights specified that non-lethal weapons were used systematically to cause unnecessary injuries, explaining that security forces had fired tear gas canisters directly against protesters at short distances. Mónica Kräuter, a chemist and teacher of the Simón Bolívar University who has studied over a thousand tear gas canisters since 2014, has stated that security forces have fired expired tear gas which, according to her, "breaks down into cyanide oxide, phosgenes and nitrogens that are extremely dangerous". Groups such as the Venezuelan Observatory of Health have denounced the use of tear gas fired directly or nearby health centers and hospitals, as well as houses and residential buildings.
In a 15 June statement, Human Rights Watch stated that high levels officials of the government, such as José Antonio Benavides Torres, the head of the Bolivarian National Guard; Vladimir Padrino López, the defense minister and the strategic operational commander of the Armed Forces; Néstor Reverol, the interior minister, Carlos Alfredo Pérez Ampueda, director of the Bolivarian National Police; Gustavo González López, the national intelligence director, and Siria Venero de Guerrero, the military attorney general, are responsible for the human rights violations and abuses performed by Venezuelan security forces during the protests. Venezuelan officials have praised authorities for their actions and denied any wrongdoing.
Human rights groups have stated that Venezuelan authorities have used force to gain confessions. Amnesty International maintains that the government has a "premeditated policy" to commit violent and lethal acts against protesters, stating that there is "a planned strategy by the government of President Maduro to use violence and illegitimate force against the Venezuelan population to neutralize any criticism". The Wall Street Journal reported that a young men had already been tortured at an army base when soldiers piled them into two jeeps and transported them to a wooded area just outside the Venezuelan capital. Foro Penal stated that "most of the detainees are beaten once they are arrested, while they are being transferred to a temporary detention site where they are to be brought before a judge", giving one instance with "a group of 40 people arrested for alleged looting, 37 reported that they were beaten before their hair was forcefully shaved off their heads". In other examples of abuses, "15 reported that they were forced to eat pasta with grass and excrement. The regime's officials forced dust from tear gas canisters up their noses to pry open their mouths. They then shoved the pasta with excrement in their mouths and made them swallow it". According to the Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, many other cases of abuses have been recorded.
In October 2017, Iceland blocked the entrance of 16 tonnes of tear gas from China destined to arrive in Venezuela, stating "it is clear that a large amount of tear gas is involved, and Venezuela can be seen as a hazardous area where fundamental human rights are not respected, among other things".
Crimes against humanity
On 14 September 2017, Venezuelan lawyer Tamara Sujú testified about 289 cases of torture during the first audience of the Organization of American States (OAS) to analyze possible crimes against humanity in the country, including incidents during the 2017 protests and 192 cases of sexual torture.
On 29 May 2018, a Board of Independent Experts designated by the Organization of American States published a 400-page report concluding that there were grounds that crimes against humanity were committed in Venezuela, including "dozens of murders, thousands of extra-judicial executions, more than 12,000 cases of arbitrary detentions, more than 290 cases of torture, attacks against the judiciary and a 'state-sanctioned humanitarian crisis' affecting hundreds of thousands of people".
On 27 September 2018, six states parties to the Rome Statute: Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru, referred the situation in Venezuela since 12 February 2014 to the ICC, requesting the Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to initiate an investigation on crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the territory. On 28 September, the Presidency assigned the situation to Pre-Trial Chamber I.
On 4 July 2019, the UN reported that the Venezuelan Government used death squads to kill 5,287 people in 2018 and another 1,569 through mid-May of 2019. Attacking security forces would arrive at a home, separate young men from the rest of the family, then fire into the walls or plant drugs. Then they would say that the victims had been killed during a confrontation.
2019 OHCHR delegation visit
Following a 25 February Lima Group meeting in Colombia, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera criticized United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) commissioner Michelle Bachelet on 3 March for her failure to condemn Maduro, and called on her "to fulfill the role as high commissioner to defend human rights in a country where they are being brutally overrun". On 8 March, her office announced that she would send a five-person delegation to Venezuela from 11 to 22 March ahead of a potential visit by Bachelet. On 15 March, the Lara state College of Physicians denounced that a large operation by government officials was underway to clean, repair and provide medical supplies in Barquisimeto and was a "farce that has been put [in place] to give an express makeover to the hospital, knowing that here people die due to lack of supplies". During a visit in the Carabobo state, one of the members of the delegation declared that they were not "fools", that the delegation noticed that the walls of the hospital were freshly painted and that the building smelled like paint. On 17 March, the UN delegation was able to freely visit the Pastor Oropeza hospital in Lara state without escorts, learning about its precarious conditions.
Bachelet gave a preliminary oral report to the UN Human Rights Council on 20 March in which she expressed extreme concern about the seriousness of the human rights situation, which was also a factor in destabilizing the region. Prodavinci summarized key points of her speech. She said that the recognition of and response to the crisis by authorities had been insufficient, and that conditions had deteriorated since their last visit, particularly among vulnerable populations. Recognizing that the devastation began before 2017 economic sanctions were applied, she expressed concern that sanctions would worsen the situation. She highlighted the complaints about and nature of alleged murders by special police forces (FAES). She was disturbed by escalating freedom of speech and press restrictions. She mentioned the significant impact on health care and the medical system: spread of infection disease, and maternal and infant mortality. She reported that a million children are missing school as a consequence of the conditions in the country. She mentioned the 2019 Venezuelan blackouts as an example of the country's collapsing infrastructure, leading to food, water and medical shortages. She said security forces and pro-government armed groups had used excessive force to quell protests, including assassination, arbitrary detention, torture and threats. She indicated that the search for food, health care and employment had led to mass emigration from Venezuela. She urged authorities to urgently improve human rights conditions and to "demonstrate their real commitment to addressing the many challenging issues".
Michelle Bachelet visit
Ahead of a three-week session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, the OHCHR chief, Michelle Bachelet, visits Venezuela from 19 to 21 June. The Human Rights Commissioner met separately with both Maduro and Guaidó during her visit, as well as with Venezuelan prosecutor Tarek William Saab, some human right activists, and families of victims who experienced torture and state repression. Protests took place in front of the UN office in Caracas during the last day of the visit, denouncing rights abuses performed by Maduro's administration. Gilber Caro who was released 2 days before the visit, joined the crowd. Bachelet announced the creation of a delegation maintained by two U.N. officials that will remain in Venezuela to monitor the humanitarian situation. Bachelet expressed concern that the recent sanctions on oil exports and gold trade could worsen the already existing crisis experienced by Venezuelans. She also called for the release of political prisoners in Venezuela. Bachelet has remained under pressure by rights groups to work towards the release of 700 political prisoners jailed in Venezuela, an allegation Maduro opposes.
Civil and political rights
- See also Civil and political rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". Specifically mentioned in Articles 18 and 19, freedom of expression and thought are guaranteed rights provided at the hand of sovereign states. According to the United Nations Treaty Collection, Venezuela signed the ICCPR on 24 June 1969 and agreed to the competence of human rights law as mentioned in the covenant. Thought not legally binding, signing the ICCPR represents and understand and signifies adherence to human rights standards expected of all United Nations member states. in 2015, the ICCPR concluded that Venezuela has been unable to uphold the agreements made upon the signing of the document and recommend that the country adopt measures to increase awareness of the covenant.
The freedom of the press is mentioned by two key clauses in the 1999 Constitution of Venezuela. The right to freedom of expression is set out in Article 57 and Article 58 of the Constitution. The right to express opinions freely without censorship (Article 57) and the right to reply (Article 58) are generally in line with international standards. However, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed concern about Article 58 of the Constitution, which provides that "Everyone has the right to timely, truthful, impartial and uncensored information." The Commission took issue with the right to "truthful and timely" information arguing that this is "a kind of prior censorship prohibited in the American Convention on Human Rights."
Concerns about freedom of the press in Venezuela have been raised by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Inter American Press Association, the International Press Institute, the United States Department of State, Reporters without Borders, representatives of the Catholic Church, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and others. Since 2003, Freedom House has ranked Venezuela as "not free" concerning press freedom, with it remaining at that ranking as of 2014.
The issue of press freedom in Venezuela is complicated by the way in which the private media's strong opposition to the Presidency and policies of Hugo Chávez has extended to support for non-electoral means of removing him from office, including the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt. In May 2007 RCTV's terrestrial broadcast licence was not renewed on the basis of its support for the coup; it continues to broadcast by satellite and cable. After RCTV lost its terrestrial broadcast licence, private television media remained opposed to the Chavez government, but more government spokesmen were presented.
In March 2009 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights concluded two cases brought against Venezuela by the private Venezuelan TV stations Globovisión and RCTV. It concluded that the Venezuelan government had failed to do enough to prevent and punish acts of intimidation against journalists by third parties, as required by the American Convention on Human Rights.
In March 2019, an independent Venezuelan journalist Luis Carlos Díaz was arbitrarily detained on the accusations of causing the massive blackout in the country. Díaz told his wife that during the search, the intelligence agents beat him with his helmet, took away his phone, computer and cash and threatened him to plant a corpse in his house and accuse him of homicide if he spoke about the arrest to anyone. Díaz is being held in the infamous El Helicoide prison in Caracas.
Administration of justice
There have been problems with Venezuela's justice system throughout its democratic period (since 1958). In addition to weak legislative oversight, the Venezuelan military exercises more authority over the judicial process than in most other countries. Crimes against "the independence and security of the nation, against liberty and against the public order" may be sent to military judges, and the armed forces control most law enforcement relating to border areas, actions by military personnel or by civilians in military-controlled areas, and crimes covered by both military and civilian law. Venezuelan law gives the police more authority than it does in most countries, and they have a central role in initiating and operating judicial proceedings; "the police have gradually assumed many of the functions of both the [Justice Ministry] and investigating judges". "This power has allowed abuses to spread throughout the judicial process", including regular use of false witnesses, invented facts and destroyed evidence, and false charges, as well as the defiance of court orders, protection of accused officials, and harassment of political activists. It has also meant that the justice system has long been particularly poor at investigating alleged abuses by state agents.
A 1993 Human Rights Watch report declared that "the administration of justice is in crisis. [Civilian] courts are undermined by politicization, corruption, inefficiency and lack of resources." Part of the problem was identified as the "pivotal role" of the judge in criminal trials in managing investigations, including directing the Judicial Technical Police. Complex cases can overwhelm even conscientious judges, and the system easily provides "plausible cover for judicial inaction". The report noted that "the perception is widespread – among lawyers, judges and fiscales as well as ordinary citizens – that corruption has tainted every level of the judicial system..." Prior to 1991, the appointment of judges (via the Judicial Council) was said to be "frankly partisan"; subsequently, open competition and objective criteria mitigated the influence of politics to an extent.
A major long-term problem has been the failure of justice arising from structural delays in the justice system: in 1990 the average court received 675 new cases, and reached decisions on 120. In Caracas the average court took 286 days to complete the investigation phase of trials, against the legal maximum of 34; and 794 days to reach the sentencing phase, against the legal maximum of 68. As a result of the judicial backlog, many prisoners eventually convicted will have spent longer in detention at the time of sentencing than the maximum sentence permitted for their crimes. The backlog also contributes significantly to the overcrowding of Venezuela's prisons.[chronology citation needed]
Political prisoners in Venezuela
Venezuela is a country where the political prisoners has escalated significantly. Foro Penal says there are more than 900 political prisoners in Venezuela as of March 2019, and human rights groups say that 2,000 Chávez opponents are under investigation. Venezuela's political opposition complains that the justice system is controlled by the government and is used as a political instrument against Chavez' opponents. The opposition cites corruption charges filed against a variety of opposition figures, including opposition leader Manuel Rosales, former Defense Minister Raul Baduel, and former Governors Eduardo Manuitt and Didalco Bolivar.
The opposition also claims that the government of Hugo Chávez targeted university students. Some have been jailed under charges of "destabilizing the government," or "inciting civil war." Students have launched hunger strikes over the government's treatment of alleged political prisoners. According to the NGO Foro Penal, as of 4 June 2018 there are 973 political prisoners nationwide.
In 2007, Eligio Cedeño, then President of Bolivar-Banpro Financial Group, was arrested in a crackdown by Venezuelan officials on individuals circumventing government currency rules to gain U.S. dollars. On 8 February 2007, Cedeño was accused by the Venezuelan Attorney General of aiding Consorcio MicroStar with illegal dollar transactions. Over the next year, prosecutors repeatedly failed to turn up for court dates, leading to accusations that the case was being made to take unnecessarily long due to a lack of evidence. Partly as a result, the United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Cedeño's detention arbitrary in September 2009.
Held in jail pending trial for 34 months, Cedeño was paroled on 10 December 2009. By the 19th Cedeño had fled to the United States, where he was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement until 23 December 2009 when he was released on parole pending an immigration hearing.
Judge María Lourdes Afiuni
Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni was arrested after ordering the release of Eligio Cedeño on corruption charges.
In December 2009, three independent human rights experts of the United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for her immediate and unconditional release. Judge María Lourdes Afiuni was detained 15 minutes after granting parole to above mentioned Eligio Cedeño. Afiuni was held for 14 months in a maximum-security prison with individuals she had previously sentenced before she was granted house arrest in 2011 due to her health following lack of medical treatment and an emergency operation due to physical abuse. In 2013, Afiuni was granted parole. The case of Afiuni is symbolic of the "lack of judicial independence in the country." 
Richard Blanco, a male local government official from Caracas, was arrested in Caracas in August 2009, charged with inciting violence and injuring a police officer during a demonstration. Amnesty International said that "his detention appears to be politically motivated", saying that the video evidence provided to support the charges did not show any evidence of violence or incitement by Blanco. Amnesty asked for his liberation. He was freed on bail in April 2010.
Human rights groups consider López as "Latin America's most prominent political prisoner". On 18 February, Leopoldo López turned himself in to the Venezuelan National Guard after leading protests in the county. López turned himself in among thousands of cheering supporters, who, like him, wore white as a symbol of nonviolence. He gave a short speech in which he said that he hoped his arrest would awaken Venezuela to the corruption and economic disaster caused by socialist rule. The only alternative to accepting arrest, he said while standing on a statue of Jose Marti, was to "leave the country, and I will never leave Venezuela!" Hours after the arrest, President Maduro addressed a cheering crowd of supporters in red, saying that he would not tolerate "psychological warfare" by his opponents and that López must be held responsible for his "treasonous acts."
López was denied bail and is being held in the Ramo Verde military prison outside of Caracas. In a July 2014 press release, Lopez' wife stated that his visitation rights had been revoked and that he was now subject to psychological tortures, including isolation. Chilean lawyer and secretary of a mission of Socialist International, José Antonio Viera-Gallo, stated that in the case of López, Socialist International "confirmed human right violations against a political leader" giving examples of authorities sounding loud sirens preventing communication when López and others tried to communicate with their families . tt
On 23 September 2014 at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative meeting, President Barack Obama called for the release of López saying, "we stand in solidarity with those who are detained at this very moment". On 8 October 2014, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that López was detained arbitrarily and that the Venezuelan government "violated several of their civil, political and constitutional rights" while demanding his immediate release. Weeks later, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called for the immediate release of López. The Venezuelan government condemned the statements by the United States and the United Nations, demanding them to not interfere in Venezuelan affairs.
When in September 2015 López was sentenced to 13 years and nine months prison term, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International denounced that "the charges against Leopoldo López were never adequately substantiated and the prison sentence against him is clearly politically motivated. His only ‘crime’ was being leader of an opposition party in Venezuela...With this decision, Venezuela is choosing to ignore basic human rights principles and giving the green light to more abuses."
On 19 February 2015 Antonio Ledezma was detained without a warrant by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service at his office in the EXA Tower in Caracas. In the operation, the security forces made warning shots to the air to disperse a crowd that was forming. He was then transported to SEBIN's headquarters in Plaza Venezuela. His lawyer declared that the charges for his detention were unknown. The New York Times stated that Ledezma was arrested by the Venezuelan Government after accusations made by President Nicolás Maduro about an "American plot to overthrow the government" that he presented a week before Ledezma's arrest. Ledezma mocked the accusations stating that the Venezuelan government was destabilizing itself through corruption. The United States denied the accusations by President Maduro and stated that "Venezuela's problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent".
Human rights groups quickly condemned Ledezma's arrest and the similarity of the case to Leopoldo López's arrest was noted by The New York Times. Amnesty International condemned Ledezma's arrest called it politically motivated, noting the similar cases of arrests made by the Venezuelan Government in what Amnesty International described as "silencing dissenting voices". Human Rights Watch demanded his release with Human Rights Watch's Americas division director, Jose Miguel Vivanco, stating that without evidence, Ledezma "faces another case of arbitrary detention of opponents in a country where there is no judicial independence".
On 7 August 2018, National Assembly deputy Juan Requesens was taken from his apartment in Caracas by SEBIN with his sister, who was released, supposedly in relation to the Caracas drone attack a few days earlier, though many sources refer to his unconstitutional arrest and detention as being "political" and "arbitrary", that the government used the drone attack as an excuse to penalise the opposition. He was taken contrary to his political immunity and without evidence or trial.
In the early morning of 21 March 2019, SEBIN officials first broke into the home of Roberto Marrero's, chief of staff to Juan Guaidó, neighbor, National Assembly deputy Sergio Vergara. Vergara reported that the agents' faces were covered; they held him for several hours although he informed them that he had parliamentary immunity. Vergara said he heard the officials breaking into Marrero's apartment next door. After about three hours between both apartments, the officials took Marrero and Vergara's driver, Luis Alberto Páez Salazar. Vergara says that as he was being taken away, Marrero shouted to him that the officials had planted a grenade and two rifles. Marrero's attorney called it a "purely political operation".
Venezuela is a signatory (December 2000) to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. As of 2016, the U.S. Department of State considered Venezuela a Tier 3 country on the Trafficking in Persons Tier Placement rating, meaning it is a country whose government "does not fully meet the minimum standards" to stop human trafficking "and are not making significant efforts to do so." Venezuela is considered a source and destination of both sex trafficking and forced labor. The government doesn't meet the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking.
Venezuela's present-day agriculture is characterized by inefficiency and low investment, with 70 percent of agricultural land owned by 3 percent of agricultural proprietors (one of the highest levels of land concentration in Latin America). According to the Land and Agricultural Reform Law of 2001 (see Mission Zamora), public and private land deemed to be illegally held or unproductive is to be redistributed. From 1999 to 2006, 130 landless workers were murdered by sicarios paid by opponents to the reform.
In 1996, Human Rights Watch concluded that "Venezuelan prisons are catastrophic, one of the worst in the American hemisphere, violating the Venezuelan State international obligations on human rights." Key problems included violence (in 1994 there were nearly 500 deaths, including around 100 in a single riot), corruption, and overcrowding, with the US State Department 1996 report describing it as "overcrowding so severe as to constitute inhuman and degrading treatment".
"Venezuela's penitentiary system, considered one of the most violent in Latin America, has 29 prisons and 16 penitentiaries holding some 20,000 inmates".
On 20 August 2012, armed prisoners in the Yare I prison complex, an overcrowded Venezuelan prison, rioted over the weekend, resulting in the deaths of 25 people. 29 inmates and 14 visitors were injured in the riot, and one visitor was killed. Venezuelan Prisons Minister Iris Varela said, "We will make them answer for this."
In 2009, the Attorney General announced the creation of an investigative team to examine 6,000 reports of extrajudicial killings between 2000 and 2007.
During the 2014 Venezuelan protests, it was stated that possibly hundreds of Venezuelans were allegedly tortured when detained by Venezuelan authorities. However, President Maduro denied the allegations, saying torture had not occurred in Venezuela since Hugo Chávez became president.
Amnesty International estimated that there were more than 8,200 extrajudicial killings in Venezuela from 2015 to 2017.
- See also Economic, social and cultural rights
Since the transition to and consolidation of democracy in 1958, Venezuela developed, initially with the Punto Fijo Pact, a two-party system. It was initially led by "two hegemonic and highly centralized and political parties", Accion Democratica and COPEI, in what was often called "partidocracia" (partyarchy). The two parties "penetrated and came to dominate so many of the other organisations in civil society, including trade unions, that they enjoyed a virtual monopoly over the political process." Party organisation was extensive, apart from the Church and business associations, practically every civil society organisation was run by leaders identifying with one of the parties. It was also intensive, with members risking expulsion, and thus exclusion from the party's patronage, for disobeying party decisions. It has been stated that "The Leninist principle of democratic centralism even received explicit endorsement in the AD's party statutes." Elected representatives of the parties strayed from the party line so infrequently that Congressional leaders did not tally votes, relying solely on the relative sizes of the parties. "Labor leaders usually refrained from calling strikes when their party was in power and the politicized officers of professional associations, student governments, peasant federations, state enterprises, foundations, and most other organizations used their positions to further the interests of their party."
Key to the maintenance of the partyarchy was a system of "concertacion" (consultation), in which the two parties would consult with each other, and with other actors (notably business and the military), seeking consensus on controversial issues. Where consensus failed, the attempts to achieve it at least mollified the opposition. Concertacion also involved complicity with widespread corruption, with the parties acting as if the Punto Fijo Pact had prohibited prosections for corruption. "The courts – like the bureaucracy, the universities, and most other institutions – were thoroughly politicized along party lines and seemed never to find sufficient evidence to justify a trial or a conviction." Threats to the partyarchy – that is, organisations which sought to challenge it or at least remain outside its control – were largely co-opted by a variety of tactics, including, if necessary, "paralelismo" (the creation of a parallel organisation with a similar purpose and far greater political and economic support).
Only with the economic crisis, particularly in the late 1980s and early 1990s, did the system of partyarchy weaken substantially, as the resources available for patronage declined significantly. The ability to co-opt new organisations, particular the neighbourhood associations protesting the failure of public services, was weakened. By the 1998 presidential elections the candidates put up by AD and COPEI won less than 6% of the vote combined.
The indigenous peoples of Venezuela make up around 1.5% of the population nationwide, though the proportion is nearly 50% in Amazonas state. Prior to the creation of the 1999 constitution, legal rights for indigenous peoples were increasingly lagging behind other Latin American countries, which were progressively enshrining a common set of indigenous collective rights in their national constitutions. In the beginning of the 19th century, the Venezuelan government did little for indigenous peoples; more so, they were pushed away from the agricultural center to the periphery. In 1913, during a rubber boom, colonel Tomas Funes seized control of Amazonas’ San Fernando de Atabapo, where 100 settlers were killed. In the following nine years, Funes destroyed dozens of Ye'kuana villages and killed several thousand Ye'kuana. In 1961, a new constitution came, but instead of improving the rights of indigenous peoples, this constitution was a step backward from the previous 1947 constitution.
In 1999, a new constitution was formed, the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution. In this constitution Chávez, being of mixed indigenous descent himself, aimed for the improvement of human rights, mainly those of women and indigenous peoples. The constitution stated that three seats should be reserved for indigenous delegates in the 131-member constitutional assembly and two additional indigenous delegates won unreserved seats in the assembly elections. Ultimately, the constitutional process produced what was called "the region's most progressive indigenous rights regime". Innovations included Article 125's guarantee of political representation at all levels of government and Article 124's prohibition on "the registration of patents related to indigenous genetic resources or intellectual property associated with indigenous knowledge." The new constitution followed the example of Colombia in reserving parliamentary seats for indigenous delegates (three in Venezuela's National Assembly); and it was the first Latin American constitution to reserve indigenous seats in state assemblies and municipal councils in districts with indigenous populations.
Relationships with international actors
Human Rights Watch
In September 2008, the Venezuelan government expelled Human Rights Watch Americas Director, Jose Miguel Vivanco, from the country over the publication of a report entitled "A Decade Under Chávez: Political Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela", which discussed systematic violations to human, civil and political rights.
A 2010 OAS report indicated "achievements with regard to the eradication of illiteracy, the set up of a primary health network, land distribution and the reduction of poverty", and "improvements in the areas of economic, social, and cultural rights". The report also found "blistering" concerns with freedom of expression, human rights abuses, authoritarianism, press freedom, control of the judiciary, threats to democracy, political intimidation, and "the existence of a pattern of impunity in cases of violence, which particularly affects media workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, participants in public demonstrations, people held in custody, 'campesinos' (small-scale and subsistence farmers), indigenous people, and women", as well as erosion of separation of powers and "severe economic, infrastructure, and social headaches", and "chronic problems including power blackouts, soaring crime, and a perceived lack of investment in crucial sectors". According to the National Public Radio, the report discusses decreasing rights of opposition to the government and "goes into heavy detail" about control of the judiciary. It says elections are free, but the state has increasing control over media and state resources used during election campaigns and opposition elected officials have "been prevented from actually carrying out their duties afterward". CNN says the "lack of independence by Venezuela's judiciary and legislature in their dealings with leftist President Hugo Chávez often leads to the abuses", and the Wall Street Journal blames the government of Chavez.
Chávez rejected the 2010 OAS report, calling it "pure garbage", and said Venezuela should boycott the OAS; a spokesperson said, "We don't recognize the commission as an impartial institution". He disclaims any power to influence the judiciary. A Venezuelan official said the report distorts and takes statistics out of context, saying that "human rights violations in Venezuela have decreased".
In October 2014, the IACHR asked for permission to assess the human rights environment in Venezuela but commission was denied.
On 12 November 2012, Venezuela was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to hold a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council for the period 2013–2015; the first time Venezuela was elected to this panel.
- "Countries". www.amnesty.org. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "IACHR Annual Report 2008 - Chapter IV". www.cidh.oas.org. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- Avenue, Human Rights Watch | 350 Fifth; York, 34th Floor | New; t 1.212.290.4700, NY 10118-3299 USA | (19 September 2008). "Venezuela: Human Rights Watch Delegation Expelled". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- Avenue, Human Rights Watch | 350 Fifth; York, 34th Floor | New; t 1.212.290.4700, NY 10118-3299 USA | (12 January 2017). "World Report 2017: Rights Trends in Venezuela". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "Venezuela 2017/2018". www.amnesty.org. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "Unemployment rate". www.imf.org. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- Democracy Index 2007
- "Democracy Index 2012". www.eiu.com. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- Democracy Index 2017
- Feo, Oscar. 2008. Neoliberal Policies and their Impact on Public Health Education: Observations on the Venezuelan Experience. Social Medicine 3 (4):223-231.
- Venezuela country profile Archived 26 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (March 2005).
- "AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS "PACT OF SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA" (B-32)". Multilateral Treaties. Organization of American States. Archived from the original on 4 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- Amnesty International, 31 March 1993, Venezuela: The Amparo Massacre: Four years on
- Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 14 September 1996, El Amparo Case Archived 10 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Coronil, Fernando, and Skurski, Julie (2006), "Dismembering and Remembering the Nation: The Semantics of Political Violence in Venezuela", in Coronil, Fernando and Skurski, Julie (eds, 2006), States of Violence. University of Michigan, pp 96–97
- Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in Venezuela, October 1993, pp 20–22
- "Venezuela Inquiry Urged on Abuses in Riots". The New York Times. 12 March 1989. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2009.
- "Comité de Familiares de las Víctimas". COFAVIC. 28 February 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- BBC, 18 July 2009, Former Venezuela minister charged Archived 22 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Clifford C. Rohde, Jamie Fellner, Cynthia G. Brown (1993), Human rights in Venezuela, Human Rights Watch, pp61-5
- Clifford C. Rohde, Jamie Fellner, Cynthia G. Brown (1993), Human rights in Venezuela, Human Rights Watch, pp71-2
- Margarita López Maya and Luis Lander (2005), "Popular Protest in Venezuela: Novelties and Continuities", Latin American Perspectives, 32 (2), pp. 92-108. pr. 97-8
- Freedom House
- "Country ratings and status, FIW 1973–2014". Freedom House. Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "VENEZUELA Protestors in civil disturbances". Amnesty International. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- The Economist Intelligence Unit's Index of Democracy 2008 Archived 14 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Venezuela". Freedom House. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- Rory, Carroll, (2014). Comandante : Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Penguin Books: New York. pp. 182–194. ISBN 0-14-312488-9.
- "Como 'una tragedia' cataloga la ONU situación de las cárceles en el país". El Nacional. 28 November 2014. Archived from the original on 28 November 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- "La situación de las cárceles venezolanas es una tragedia, dice la ONU". La Patilla. 29 November 2014. Archived from the original on 30 November 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- Provea criticizes Róger Cordero is allowed to become a deputy
- "Venezuela". Freedom House. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "Amnesty Reports Dozens of Venezuela Torture Accounts". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
- "Punished for Protesting" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
- "Venezuela: Violence Against Protesters, Journalists". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- Lopez, Leopoldo. "Venezuela's Failing State". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- "Venezuela arrests one opposition mayor, jails another". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "S.2142 – Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014". Congress.gov. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- "OBAMA SIGNS BILL TO SANCTION VENEZUELAN OFFICIALS". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- "Obama Signs Bill to Sanction Venezuelan Officials". ABC News. 18 December 2014. Archived from the original on 1 January 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- Goodman, Joshua; Orsi, Peter (7 April 2015). "Latin America silent on Venezuela as US airs rights concerns". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 8 April 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
- "Venezuela ante la ONU: "Puede haber individuos armados dentro de los colectivos"". Infobae. 8 November 2014. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- "Venezuela tuvo que responder por más de 3.000 casos de tortura ante Naciones Unidas". Infobae. 6 November 2014. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- "Estado no respondió con precisión preguntas de la ONU sobre casos de tortura". El Nacional. 8 November 2014. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- "U.N. watchdog urges Venezuela to investigate torture allegations". Reuters. 28 November 2014. Archived from the original on 28 November 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- "Venezuela violó derecho internacional al no prevenir tortura". La Verdad. 11 March 2015. Archived from the original on 13 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
- "Venezuela: UN rights chief decries excessive force used against protesters". The Guardian. 8 August 2017. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
- "CIDH deplora medidas represivas, condena secuela de muertes y emplaza al gobierno bolivariano". La Patilla (in Spanish). 9 May 2017. Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- "Venezuela's New Government Approach to Crowd Control: Robbery". Latin American Herald Tribune. 5 June 2017. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
- Human Rights Watch; Foro Penal. "5". Crackdown on Dissent. Brutality, Torture, and Political Persecution in Venezuela (PDF). p. 61. ISBN 978-1-62313-549-2.
- "Informe: En Venezuela los manifestantes fueron víctimas de vulneraciones y abusos de derechos humanos" (in Spanish). Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 31 August 2017. Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- "Bombas lacrimógenas que usa el gobierno están vencidas y emanan cianuro (+ recomendaciones)". La Patilla (in Spanish). 8 April 2017. Archived from the original on 24 April 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- "Observatorio Venezolano de la Salud alerta sobre uso de gases lacrimógenos" (in Spanish). Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia. Observatorio Venezolano de la Salud. 28 April 2017. Archived from the original on 16 July 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- "Venezuela: Senior Officials' Responsibility for Abuses". Human Rights Watch. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
- Venezuela's Brutal Crime Crackdown: Executions, Machetes and 8,292 Dead
- Martín, Karina (16 May 2017). "Venezuelan Regime Steps up Torture against Protesters, Forces Them to Eat Excrement". PanAm Post. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
- "Efectivos militares orinaron a joven detenida en protestas". La Región. 20 May 2017. Archived from the original on 23 May 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
- "Heimild til flutnings á hergögnum um íslenskt yfirráðasvæði ekki veitt". Government of Iceland (in Icelandic). 23 October 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
- "Denunciaron 289 casos de tortura en la Organización de Estados Americanos". El Nacional (in Spanish). 14 September 2017. Archived from the original on 15 September 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
- "ICC to open preliminary probes in Philippines, Venezuela". ABC News. 8 February 2018. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
- "Sepa quiénes son los 11 venezolanos señalados por la OEA por supuestos crímenes de lesa humanidad – Efecto Cocuyo". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). 30 May 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- Smith, Marie-Danielle (30 May 2018). "Canada introduces new sanctions on Venezuelan regime in wake of devastating report on crimes against humanity". National Post. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- "Venezuela". International Criminal Court. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
- Nick Cumming-Bruce (4 July 2019). "Venezuela Forces Killed Thousands, Then Covered It Up, U.N. Says". New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
- "Chile's Pinera slams UN's Bachelet for failure to condemn Maduro". France 24. Agence France-Presse. 3 March 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "UN rights team heading to Venezuela may pave way for official mission led by Bachelet" (Press release). UN News. 8 March 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- Gascón, Liz (15 March 2019). "Médicos llaman a protestar en el Hospital Central de Barquisimeto frente a comisión de la ONU" (in Spanish). El Pitazo. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- Sleinan, Julett Pineda (15 March 2019). "'Los comisionados dijeron que el hospital olía a pintura', médico sobre visita de la ONU al Chet". Efecto Cocuyo. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- Sleinan, Julett Pineda (18 March 2019). "La crisis que la ONU no pudo ver en el hospital central de Barquisimeto, la constató en el Pastor Oropeza" (in Spanish). Efecto Cocuyo.
- "10 claves del informe de Michelle Bachelet sobre Venezuela" [10 keys if Michelle Bachelet's report on Venezuela]. Prodavinci (in Spanish). 20 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- "Oral update on the situation of human rights in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela". OHCHR. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
- "Venezuela: 'A worrying destabilizing factor in the region', Bachelet tells Human Rights Council". UN News. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- Pons, Corina; Castro, Shaylim (22 June 2019). "U.N. rights chief Bachelet urges Venezuela to release prisoners". Reuters. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
- Laya, Patricia (20 June 2019). "Protests Erupt in Caracas During Venezuela Visit by UN's Bachelet". Bloomberg. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
- Smith, Scott; Goodman, Joshua (22 June 2019). "UN human rights chief appeals for dialogue in Venezuela". Associated Press. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
- "UN Human Rights Chief Urges Venezuelan Government to Free Jailed Dissidents". VOANews. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
- "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". United Nations Human Rights Committee: Office of the High Commissioner. United Nations. Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- "United Nations Treaty Collection: 4. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- "CCPR – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". United Nations Human Right Office of the High Commissioner. United Nations Human Rights Committee. Archived from the original on 9 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- Canton, Santiago A. Preliminary Evaluation by the IACHR of the Visit to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Archived 12 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Retrieved 6 August 2006.
- "Venezuela: Events of 2009". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 31 January 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- Carroll, Rory (18 September 2008). "Report accuses Chávez of undermining democracy in Venezuela". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2 September 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
- "Venezuela: Globovisión attack must be urgently investigated and journalists protected". Amnesty International. 4 August 2009. Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- "IAPA condemns harsh blow to Venezuela's democracy" (Press release). Inter American Press Association. 31 July 2009. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- "Resolutions Passed by the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organisations on 18 June 2008" (Press release). International Press Institute. 18 June 2008. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- "2008 Human Rights Report: Venezuela". Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. U.S. Department of State. 25 February 2009. Archived from the original on 28 February 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- "In 'cure worse than cold,' Globovisión waits to be stripped of broadcast frequency". Reporters without Borders. 23 June 2009. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- Brice, Arthur (23 May 2009). "Head of Venezuelan TV station: Raid of home was scare tactic". CNN. Archived from the original on 6 July 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
- Jones, Rachel (28 May 2009). "In Venezuela, hundreds march for press freedom". Lexis Nexis. Associated Press.
Human Rights Watch and press freedom groups have criticized the investigation, saying it aims to harass Chavez's opponents.
- "Venezuela Threatens To Close Opposition TV Station". SHOW: Morning Edition 10:00 am EST NPR. National Public Radio (NPR); LexisNexis. 11 June 2009.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez's government is moving against this TV station, which has press freedom groups raising questions about the future of democracy in a highly polarized country.
- James, Ian (17 September 2009). "Venezuela a top concern at press freedom forum". LexisNexis. Associated Press.
Press freedom groups condemn Venezuela's recent shutdown of radio stations as part of a broader strategy by President Hugo Chávez to progressively clamp down on the private news media and they want to put a stop to it. ... Newspaper executives who lead the Miami-based Inter American Press Association say Venezuela will be at the top of their list as they gather in Caracas for an emergency forum Friday to discuss freedom of expression in the Americas.
- "US calls for free press in Venezuela, Latin America". Agence France Presse -- English. LexisNexis. 12 June 2009.
The United States called Friday on the Venezuelan and other Latin American governments to stop intimidating the news media and take action to uphold a free press. ... On Tuesday, the International Press Institute, a media advocacy group, denounced the deterioration of press freedom in Venezuela and in particular the Chavez government's harassment of Globovision.
- Sanchez, Fabiola (25 January 2010). "Removal of anti-Chavez TV channel spurs protests". The Washington Post.
Press freedom organizations and Roman Catholic leaders condemned RCTV's removal from cable, calling it part of a broader effort to mute government critics. ... Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said the government's move is "an allergic reaction to dissident voices within the country's leading broadcast media." ... U.S. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley echoed earlier comments by the U.S. Embassy that Washington is concerned.
- "FREEDOM OF THE PRESS 2003" (PDF). Freedom House. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "FREEDOM OF THE PRESS 2014" (PDF). Freedom House. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 January 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- CounterPunch, 21 June 2007, An Analysis of How the Network Has Deliberately Misinformed Its Viewers: Fox News and Venezuela Archived 30 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "Inter American Court of Human Rights" (PDF). IACHR. 23 March 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- "Venezuela: Journalist Detained, Accused of Causing Blackout". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
- "Venezuelan Journalist Luis Carlos Díaz Was Detained After Reporting On His Country's Blackout". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
- Mark Ungar (2002), Elusive reform: democracy and the rule of law in Latin America
- Mark Ungar (2002), Elusive reform: democracy and the rule of law in Latin America, p100
- Ungar (2002:105)
- For example, through the use of nudo hecho proceedings, which involve investigations of state agents (especially police) which allow them to remain on active duty, and often delay criminal proceedings (or make them impossible, if they take so long that statutes of limitation apply) – HRW93, p15
-  p11. The report notes that "such problems are not limited to the courts; they are said to plague most Venezuelan public institutions..."
- HRW93, p12
- HRW93, p13
- Hernández, Arelis R. and Mariana Zuñiga (12 April 2019). "Political detentions climbing amid worsening Venezuela crisis". Washington Post – via ProQuest.
The pace of politically motivated arrests in Nicolás Maduro's Venezuela has reached a fever pitch, advocates say, putting 2019 on track to record the highest number of political prisoners in two decades and signaling rising repression in the oil-rich country. In March, Venezuelan intelligence forces raided the home of Guaidó's chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, who was detained and charged with four counts of conspiracy and illegal gun ownership in a "purely political" operation, said attorney Joel Garcia. Garcia's client, Marrero, has yet to have a hearing; they are often delayed for months and take place behind closed doors.
- Politics and prison in Venezuela
- Jailing of judge provokes debate in Venezuela
- Tell Chavez
- Venezuelan protesters end hunger strike over prisoners
- Nacional, El (4 June 2019). "Foro Penal asegura que hay 973 presos políticos en Venezuela". El Nacional (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 June 2019.
- "Presos Políticos a Nivel Nacional". Foro Penal. Archived from the original on 27 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Venezuelan bank president detained in crack down on illegal dollar transactions". International Herald Tribune. 8 February 2007. Archived from the original on 2 April 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
- "Interpol captura en Panamá a Gustavo Arraíz imputado por caso Microstar". UnionRadio.net. 1 March 2007. Archived from the original on 7 May 2008.
- "Fiscalía realizó nueva acusación por caso Microstar". Venevision.com. 26 March 2007. Archived from the original on 7 May 2008.
- "Detienen en Panamá a solicitado por caso Microstar". El Universal. 5 March 2007. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008.
- "Cedeno Trial Postponed for Fourth Time in a Month". Reuters. 19 March 2008. Archived from the original on 3 July 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- The Guardian, 17 December 2009, UN human rights panel accuses Chávez of undermining Venezuelan judges Archived 2 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine
- "UPDATE: Venezuelan Banker, Wanted Back Home, Is Paroled in US". The Wall Street Journal. 23 December 2009.[dead link]
- Bolivarian rule of lawlesness Archived 8 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Abuses Extradition Treaties, Says Lawyer
- "Venezuelan leader violates independence of judiciary – UN rights experts". UN News. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "News from California, the nation and world". latimes.com. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "Venezuela Violates Rights of Judge Afiuni in Trial". freedomhouse.org. 23 November 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "Document". www.amnesty.org. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "WebCite query result" (PDF). www.webcitation.org. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "Document". www.amnesty.org. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "Jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez calls for more protests". Fox News Latino. 15 December 2014. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- Wallis, Daniel; Chinea, Eyanir (16 February 2014). "Venezuela's Lopez says ready for arrest at Tuesday march". Reuters. Archived from the original on 17 February 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
- Rafael Romo (22 February 2014). "The face of Venezuela's opposition". CNN. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- Goodman, Joshua (18 February 2014). "Venezuela opposition leader jailed over protests". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- Castillo, Mariano and Ed Payne (20 February 2014). "Murder charges against Venezuela opposition leader dropped". CNN. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- "Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez denied bail". BBC News. 28 March 2014. Archived from the original on 31 March 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- Poleo, Helena (14 July 2014). "Imprisoned opposition leader subjected to psychological torture, wife claims". Local10. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- "Socialist International rejects detention of dissenter Leopoldo López". El Universal. 17 November 2014. Archived from the original on 15 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Obama calls for release of Venezuelan dissenter López". El Universal. 23 September 2014. Archived from the original on 28 September 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- "ONU insta a la inmediata liberación de Leopoldo López". El Nacional. 8 October 2014. Archived from the original on 9 October 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- "UN Human Rights Chief urges Venezuela to release arbitrarily detained protestors and politicians". ohchr.org. OHCHR. 20 October 2014. Archived from the original on 30 June 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Venezuela rechazó resolución ONU sobre López y pide no inmiscuirse". El Mundo. 10 October 2014. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- "Venezuela: Sentence against opposition leader shows utter lack of judicial independence". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 24 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
- "Venezuela on the Brink". PrimePair. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- Sabin, Lamiat (20 February 2015). "Mayor Antonio Ledezma arrested and dragged out of office 'like a dog' by police in Venezuela". The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
- "Sebin detuvo al alcalde Metropolitano Antonio Ledezma". El Universal. Archived from the original on 20 February 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
- "Sebin se lleva detenido al alcalde Antonio Ledezma". La Patilla. Archived from the original on 20 February 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
- "Detuvieron al alcalde Antonio Ledezma". El Nacional. Archived from the original on 20 February 2015.
- Gupta, Girish; Robles, Frances (20 February 2015). "Caracas Mayor Arrested on Sedition Accusation, Plunging Venezuela into New Crisis". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
- "Opposition leaders in Venezuela call for rally to protest Caracas mayor arrest". Fox News Channel. 20 February 2015. Archived from the original on 20 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
- "Amnesty International deplores actions against Mayor Ledezma". El Universal. 20 February 2015. Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
- Vyas, Kejal (19 February 2015). "Caracas Mayor Detained By State Agents Antonio Ledezma, fierce critic of President Nicolás Maduro, taken away by armed agents". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
- Parkin Daniels, Joe (21 March 2019). "Juan Guaidó's chief of staff arrested by Venezuelan agents". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Sebin detuvo a Roberto Marrero y allanó vivienda del diputado Sergio Vergara" [SEBIN detained Roberto Marrero and raided the home of deputy Sergio Vergara]. El Universal (in Spanish). 21 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Rosati, Andrew and Patricia Laya (21 March 2019). "Venezuela police detain Guaido's chief of staff after raid". Bloomberg – via ProQuest. Also available online with a subscription.
- Rodrigues Rosas, Ronny (22 March 2019). "Asamblea Nacional pide sanciones por 'secuestro' de Roberto Marrero" [National Assembly calls for sanctions for the 'kidnapping' of Roberto Marrero]. Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 March 2019.
- "Venezuela crisis escalates as Guaido's chief of staff is arrested". New York Times. 21 March 2019 – via ProQuest. Also available online with subscription.
- UNODC, Ratifications Archived 31 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "Trafficking in Persons Report 2016: Tier Placements". 2009-2017.state.gov. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "Venezuela". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- "South America :: Venezuela — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". www.cia.gov. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- Maurice Lemoine, Venezuela: the promise of land for the people Archived 4 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Le Monde diplomatique, October 2003/‹See Tfd›(in French)/‹See Tfd›(in Portuguese)/(in Esperanto)
- Del Olmo, Rosa (1998), "The State of Prisons and Prisoners in Four Countries of the Andean Region", p 132; in Weiss, Robert P. and Nigel South (1998, eds.), Comparing prison systems: Toward a comparative and international penology. Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach.
- Del Olmo (1998: 134)
- "Well-armed Venezuela prisoners riot again, killing 25". Reuters. 20 August 2012. Archived from the original on 21 August 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
- Amnesty International, 2009 Annual Report: Venezuela Archived 2 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "Venezuela: UN rights chief calls for immediate release of opposition leader, politicians". United Nations. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- Gupta, Girish (26 February 2014). "Venezuela government faces brutality accusations over unrest". Reuters. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
- McKenzie, David and Vasco Cotovio (30 April 2019). "The women fighting to solve hundreds of mysterious murders in Venezuela". CNN. Retrieved 1 May 2019.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- HRW93 , p3
- Coppedge, Michael (1994), "Prospects for Democratic Governability in Venezuela". Journal of Latin American Studies and World Affairs. 36:2 (1994). 39-64.
- Coppedge, Michael (1992), "Venezuela's Vulnerable Democracy", Journal of Democracy, p35
- Coppedge (1994:41-2)
- Coppedge (1994:42)
- Coppedge (1994:42-3)
- Coppedge (1994:47)
- Coppedge (1994:48)
- McCoy (1999), "Chavez and the End of 'Partyarchy' in Venezuela", Journal of Democracy, 10(3), pp64-77
- Van Cott (2003:52)
- Van Cott (2003), "Andean Indigenous Movements and Constitutional Transformation: Venezuela in Comparative Perspective", Latin American Perspectives 30(1), p51
- Van Cott (2003:55)
- Van Cott (2003:56)
- Van Cott (2003:63)
- Van Cott (2003:65)
- "Venezuela: Events of 2009". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 31 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- "Venezuela: Chávez's Authoritarian Legacy". Human Rights Watch. 5 March 2013. Archived from the original on 29 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
- "Venezuela: Human Rights Watch Delegation Expelled". Human Rights Watch. 19 September 2008. Archived from the original on 25 June 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- "Cidh califica de excepcional rechazo del gobierno venezolano ante posible visita". La Patilla. 28 October 2014. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- "Press release N° 20/10, IACHR publishes report on Venezuela". Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Press release). Organization of American States. 24 February 2010. Archived from the original on 28 February 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
- Alonso, Juan Francisco (24 February 2010). "IACHR requests the Venezuelan government to guarantee all human rights". El Universal. Archived from the original on 14 May 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- Schimizzi, Carrie (24 February 2010). "Venezuela government violating basic human rights: report". Jurist: Legal news and research. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- Forero, Juan (24 February 2010). "Venezuela, President Chávez criticized in OAS report". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- "Venezuela violates human rights, OAS commission reports". CNN. 24 February 2010. Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- Prado, Paulo (24 February 2010). "OAS Report Chastises Venezuela". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
... issued a scathing report that accuses Venezuela's government of human-rights abuses, political repression, and eroding the separation of powers among government branches in the oil-rich country. In its sternly worded conclusion, it blames the government of President Hugo Chávez—already reeling from a recession and energy shortages that have undermined his popularity in recent months—for "aspects that contribute to the weakening of the rule of law and democracy." ... The problems include the firing of judges critical of Mr. Chávez, the shuttering of critical media outlets, and the exertion of pressure on public employees, including those of state oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela SA, to support the government at the ballot box. ... Mr. Chávez has been struggling to maintain his popularity at home amid severe economic, infrastructure, and social headaches. In addition to the downturn and ballooning inflation, the government faces mounting criticism and public protests over chronic problems including power blackouts, soaring crime, and a perceived lack of investment in crucial sectors, including roads and the all-important oil industry.
- Forero, Juan and Steve Inskeep (24 February 2010). "OAS Report Critical of Venezuela's Chavez". National Public Radio (NPR). Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
- "Chavez Rejects Report Citing Rights Violations". The New York Times. Associated Press. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010.[dead link]
- "Venezuelan official disputes report on human rights abuses". CNN. 25 February 2010. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
- "Human rights: Venezuela, Madagascar, Burma" (Press release). European Parliament. 11 February 2010. Archived from the original on 14 February 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- "European Parliament OKs resolutions". United Press International. 12 February 2010. Archived from the original on 18 February 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
The members expressed concern about the movement toward authoritarianism by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's government, the European Union said Thursday in a release. In January 2010, six cable and satellite television channels were ordered off the air after they were criticized for failing to broadcast Chavez's speech on the 52nd anniversary of the overthrow of Perez Jimenez.
- United Nations, 12 November 2012, IN SINGLE SECRET BALLOT, GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTS 18 MEMBER STATES TO SERVE THREE-YEAR TERMS ON HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL Archived 28 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine, General Assembly GA/11310
- Library of Congress, A Country Study: Venezuela
- Human Rights Watch / Venezuela
- Amnesty International Venezuela page
- World Report 2017: Venezuela Human Rights Watch