IACHR Files Application Before Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case Concerning Arbitrary Detention and Torture in Venezuela

May 25, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed on May 9, 2022, an application before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Milton Gerardo Revilla, with regard to Venezuela. This case concerns violations of several rights during Revilla's detention and during military criminal proceedings against him.

Milton Gerardo Revilla, a retired Army major, was held detained in 2010 at the Caracas headquarters of the General Department of Military Counterintelligence, and he was convicted of a crime against the security of the National Armed Forces and sentenced to a prison term, as well as disqualified from standing for political office. Revilla was unable to file an appeal against his conviction because he was notified of it late.

According to the allegations, Revilla found out and reported links between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Venezuelan State, which triggered retaliation against him by Venezuelan authorities and led him to retire from the Army. The Commission noted that the court considered Revilla a government critic in political terms and that his conviction was grounded on Article 550 of the Organic Code for Military Justice, which punishes anyone who "reveals private or secret orders, instructions, documents, or notifications issued by the Armed Forces."

The IACHR considered that these military criminal justice proceedings had not been launched by the authorities of competent jurisdiction. Since Revilla had retired, he should not have been tried by a military court, and a military court may not make decisions concerning political disqualification in any case. The IACHR therefore considered that Revilla's right to be heard by a competent, independent, and impartial judge or court had been violated.

The IACHR's Merits Report also found that Revilla had been a victim of acts of torture including beatings, electric shocks, and isolation in cruel, inhuman, and degrading conditions during interrogation and while he was deprived of liberty. Instances of torture and degrading conditions of detention, along with the lack of adequate medical care, caused a deterioration of the victim's health and also had a negative impact on his personal integrity.

The IACHR therefore concluded that the State is liable for violating the rights held in Articles 5.1 and 5.2 (humane treatment), 7.1 (personal liberty), 8 (a fair trial), 13.2 (freedom of thought and expression), 23.1 (political rights), 25.1 (judicial protection), and 26 (health) of the American Convention, in accordance with Articles 1.1 and 2 of this instrument, and in Articles 1, 6, and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, with regard to Milton Gerardo Revilla Soto.

In its Merits Report, the Commission recommended that the State take the following action:

  1. Declare military criminal proceedings and convictions against Milton Gerardo Revilla Soto void and change his criminal record to reflect this.
  2. Provide material and immaterial reparations to the victim.
  3. Provide any physical and mental healthcare necessary for the victim's rehabilitation.
  4. Investigate and establish any instances of torture in a diligent, effective, and timely manner in order to identify and punish anyone responsible for them.
  5. Take measures for non-recurrence—including legislative changes and training for judicial officers—to ensure that military criminal courts are only used to try active military officers, and only for crimes committed on the job that amount to offenses involving the rights of the military.

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. 116/22

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