Press Release

IACHR Condemns and Expresses Concern over the Murder of a Councilor in Venezuela

November 5, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the murder of Venezuelan councilor Edmundo Rada and noted with concern that his death is part of a pattern of persecution, harassment, threats, and aggression against people who have decided to take part in politics and are identified as dissidents.

The IACHR condemned this crime categorically and warned that it must be fully clarified by the Venezuelan authorities. As per inter-American standards on the matter, a serious, impartial, effective investigation must be implemented without delay. This investigation must be carried out using all available legal means and should seek to determine the truth of events and to identify, locate, capture, prosecute, and eventually punish all those who are responsible for masterminding the murder or carrying it out, especially as state agents may be involved.

Edmundo Rada was a well-known councilor from Sucre municipality who represented the Voluntad Popular party. According to publicly available information, he allegedly disappeared on the morning of October 16. He was found dead the next day: his corpse contained two bullet wounds and has been partially burned. The IACHR received information suggesting that the crime had been committed in retaliation for the victim’s having been involved in organizing the visit of the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, to the Petare neighborhood on September 28.

The IACHR has been following the political, social, and economic crisis in Venezuela closely for years. As a result, it has been able to consistently corroborate the existence of a climate of persecution against opposition leaders. The 173rd IACHR Period of Sessions included a hearing on political persecution in Venezuela. At this hearing, evidence was put forward indicating that public officials, National Assembly deputies, community activists, corruption whistleblowers, union leaders, and people who are identified as dissidents continue to be systematically targeted by acts that include criminalization and smear campaigns; aggression; arbitrary arrest; forced disappearances; and extrajudicial executions. Civil society organizations also reported that at least 25 National Assembly had allegedly had their parliamentary immunity arbitrarily lifted as part of an articulated strategy of attacks against the opposition and political dissent.

The rapporteur for Venezuela, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, stated that “the state of Venezuela’s national institutions must take the necessary steps to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of all people who take part in political life, and high-ranking state authorities must refrain from making stigmatizing remarks that create a climate of animosity.”

“There is an urgent need for democratic rule of law to be consolidated in Venezuela and for full guarantees to be put in place around taking part in political life,” added the president of the IACHR, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño.

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. 284/19