IACHR Files Application Before Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case Concerning Rights Violations in Deprivation of Liberty and Criminal Proceeding Contexts in Venezuela

October 17, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on August 31 an application concerning a case involving violations of the human rights of César Daniel Camejo Blanco in Venezuela, in a context of deprivation of liberty and criminal proceedings against him.

In 2011, César Daniel Camejo Blanco, who at the time chaired the board of a financial institution, was arrested at an airport after being banned from leaving the country due to an ongoing investigation for corruption and financial crimes. A court ruled his arrest unlawful, for lack of a court warrant or evidence that he had been caught in the act. However, that same court ordered him to be held in pretrial detention, so he remained deprived of liberty at the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service in Caracas for three years.

The appeals that were filed, where the defense alleged irregularities including lack of access to the records, insufficient investigative efforts, and illegal actions against their client, were ineffective to overcome the imposition of pretrial detention and achieve his release.

The Commission found that his arrest was illegal, for lack of a court warrant or evidence that he had been caught in the act. No proof has been provided that César Daniel Camejo Blanco was adequately informed of the reasons for his arrest. This violated Article 7.2 and Article 7.4 of the American Convention.

The court based the imposition of pretrial detention on the legal framework of the criminal code, which presumes the risk of an escape from the country for all crimes punished with more than 10 years in prison. The decision relied on the potentially applicable sentence and on general statements, instead of on proof, to establish the danger of an escape. The Commission therefore found that both Article 7.3 and Article 8.2 of the American Convention had been violated, in accordance with Article 2 of the Convention.

César Daniel Camejo Blanco was deprived of liberty for too long and the decision was not periodically reviewed, as required by Article 7.5 of the American Convention. Appeals filed to request his release were unsuccessful, since the case was not assessed based on inter-American standards to protect the rights to personal liberty and the principle of the presumption of innocence, violating Articles 7.6 and 25 of the American Convention.

The legality principle was also violated, since laws that had been revoked were applied and since the court failed to apply the most favorable criminal law, as was required. The State failed to effectively provide César Daniel Camejo Blanco the required judicial guarantees, since he was not granted access to the records, the evidence on which the criminal charges were based, or the results of the investigation.

Based on this analysis, the Commission concluded that the State violated the rights of César Daniel Camejo Blanco held in Articles 7 (paragraphs 1–6, right to personal liberty), 8.2 (right to judicial guarantees), 9 (freedom from ex post facto laws), and 25.1 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention, in accordance with Articles 1.1 and 2 of the Convention.

The Commission therefore asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to demand that the State take the following measures:

  1. Adopt economic compensation and redress measures
  2. In case criminal proceedings against César Daniel Camejo Blanco continue, the State should ensure that they enforce the safeguards and standards held in Articles 8, 9, and 25 of the American Convention
  3. Take legislative, administrative, and other measures to prevent the recurrence of these rights violations, particularly ensuring that rules and practices concerning pretrial detention reflect human rights standards and that the danger of an escape from the country be based on the actual case at hand, rather than on the penalty that is associated with the charges

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. 231/22

5:44 PM