IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression (RFOE) acknowledged the importance of the recent dialogue and agreements reached between the Venezuelan government and the Unitary Platform, a political alliance that brings together some of the country's opposition parties. At the same time, they warned that for the dialogues to contribute to overcoming the current crisis, the State must guarantee the political participation of the opposition in the 2024 presidential elections.
The IACHR and the RFOE followed up on the recent dialogues between the Government of Venezuela and the Unitary Platform and the agreement signed by the parties in Barbados on October 17, 2023. As a result of these agreements, the Venezuelan government committed to establishing a timetable and roadmap for presidential elections that guarantee the participation of all candidates without arbitrary restrictions, under equal conditions and with security guarantees. During these dialogues, the State released a group of at least five people who had been arbitrarily detained.
On October 22, a section of the opposition held a citizens' consultation to choose a candidate for the presidential election. The IACHR has learned that the Public Prosecutor's Office responded by opening a criminal investigation against the organizers of the consultation. The IACHR and the RFOE condemn this decision because it violates the spirit of the agreements and discourages political participation.
Political rights are protected under international law. They are also a critical factor in the dialogue currently taking place in Venezuela and are vital to overcoming the crisis, which is why it is essential for citizen participation initiatives not to be criminalized.
Broad, effective, participatory dialogue requires guarantees of freedom of expression, assembly, and association. In Venezuela, there continue to be arbitrary restrictions on the political participation of opposition candidates, politically motivated prosecutions, and legislative initiatives and judicial decisions that seek to control and limit the functions of civil society organizations, as well as intimidation of journalists and interference in the media.
In this context, at least nine radio stations in the states of Táchira (3), Portuguesa (2), Anzoátegui (1), Bolívar (1), Barinas (1), and Carabobo (1) have been suspended from broadcasting by administrative order. In most of these cases, the authorities argued that the stations did not have the permits they needed to operate. Similarly, certain topics or words in news programs were allegedly censored, as were interviews with certain individuals and public debates about alleged acts of corruption and irregularities in government administration. There were also reports of journalists being dismissed after covering and reporting on issues of public interest.
The IACHR and RFOE emphasized the relationship between political rights and the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, stressing that these rights strengthen and guarantee democracy. The State must therefore create the conditions and mechanisms for the effective exercise of these rights, without any form of discrimination.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to defend the right to freedom of thought and expression in the Americas, given its fundamental role in consolidating and developing the democratic system.
The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.