IACHR and RFOE Reject Attacks on Freedom of Association in Venezuela

August 21, 2023

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RFOE) have rejected recent rulings by the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) of Venezuela that threaten freedom of association. They called for the protection of civic space and the right to participate in matters of public interest without discrimination.

On August 4, the TSJ dissolved the National Committee of the Venezuelan Red Cross through Ruling No. 1,057 and appointed an ad hoc restructuring board with the power to reorganize it. This decision contradicts the organization's internal bylaws regarding its governance and grants powers contrary to its articles of incorporation. Likewise, on August 11, the TSJ issued Ruling No. 1,160, through which it arbitrarily appointed an ad hoc board of directors for the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), which opposes the government coalition and several legislative initiatives.

The boards of directors of the two associations have decision-making authority on operational and management issues. The internal processes for appointing authorities therefore need to be autonomous and independent. It is particularly concerning that the TSJ has issued judgments targeting a political party that opposes the ruling coalition and a civil society organization whose mission is to strengthen humanitarian aid.

The IACHR and the RFOE noted that these are not the first rulings that run counter to freedom of association in Venezuela. In June 2020, the TSJ arbitrarily appointed the boards of directors for two opposition political parties, Acción Democrática and Movimiento Primero Justicia.

Not only do these arbitrary judicial decisions affect the right to freedom of association and to participate in government, they also deepen distrust in the electoral system and, more worryingly, create new obstacles to overcoming the institutional crisis in a country characterized by the absence of the rule of law.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the Americas, given the fundamental role that this right plays 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.

No. 189/23

2:30 PM