Press Release

IACHR Condemns the Deaths and Acts of Violence on Election Day in Venezuela

August 1, 2017

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Guatemala City, Guatemala — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its strong condemnation over the deaths and acts of violence that took place in Venezuela during the election held on July 30, 2017, for the National Constituent Assembly.

According to figures provided by the Office of the Public Prosecutor, 10 individuals lost their lives during protests on July 30. Other sources place the number of deaths at 16, in addition to many reports of injuries. It was also reported that two police officers died and four were in serious condition in the state of Táchira.

This election took place in the framework of the crisis Venezuela is going through and in the context of nearly four months of protests and repression, under restrictions on freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly—restrictions condemned by the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression on July 29.

Leading up to and on the day of the election, there were complaints of threats and intimidation of voters for participating in the disputed elections. Acts of violence were also reportedly committed by armed civilian groups known as “colectivos.” Public demonstrations that day were again quelled by means of excessive and disproportionate use of force by State security forces. The violence also resulted in many injuries and arrests.

Civil society organizations report that an estimated 100 people were arrested in at least 13 states and the Capital District, in situations involving public demonstrations on election day. It was also reported that State security agents raided many houses illegally, without having a warrant and without having caught someone in the act of committing a crime, and caused damage to property. A number of government authorities and spokespersons denied that such violent acts had occurred and reported that the electoral process had unfolded in a completely normal manner.

The Commission expresses its strong condemnation of the regrettable acts that occurred. It urges the relevant authorities to immediately conduct appropriate investigations—diligently, effectively, and independently—to prosecute and punish those responsible and obtain the corresponding measures of reparation for victims and their families.

In the context of the serious situation in Venezuela, the Commission reiterates that it is crucial for these acts not to go unpunished and for the necessary measures to be urgently taken to more rigorously prevent the disproportionate use of force by State security agents.

The Commission once again urges the Venezuelan State to fulfill its international human rights obligations, and reiterates its call for a democratic solution to the crisis it is facing, in order to reestablish peace.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 111/17