Press Release

IACHR Takes Precautionary Measures to Protect the Close Family of Venezuelan Lawyer and Human Rights Defender Tamara Suju Roa

October 9, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted on October 1, 2019 Resolution 50/2019, with which it granted precautionary measures in favor of Francisco Arturo Suju Raffo, Carmen Cecilia Fuentes de Suju, Marisela Suyen Suju de Rivero, Andrés Rivero Muro, Oswaldo Ramón Suju Raffo, Elena Torres de Suju, and Sungliying Helena Suju Torres, members of the close family of Venezuelan human rights defender Tamara Suju who are allegedly at risk after being harassed by State authorities.

The Commission considered that the risks faced by beneficiaries is allegedly linked to Ms. Suju’s international actions as a human rights defender and as an opposition politician. For this reason, her close family was allegedly subjected to at least five raids in less than one month.

The Commission has monitored events in Venezuela and has received information about the use of raids to harass and intimidate individuals who identify themselves as members of the opposition to the current government. In this context, the IACHR has urged the Venezuelan State to not criminalize opposition political leaders and to ensure the participation of all sectors in Venezuela’s political life, as well as to protect the human rights of anyone who identifies as part of the opposition. The Commission has also expressed its concern about the use of the State’s punitive power to criminally prosecute political dissidents and to repress public criticism against the government.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of the IACHR’s Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the State of Venezuela to take any measures necessary to protect the rights of beneficiaries to life and personal integrity; to come to an agreement with them regarding any measures that need to be adopted; and to report on any actions taken to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the Inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.

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. 253/19