Press Release

IACHR Condemns Attempt Against the Life of Another Member of the Barrios Family in Venezuela

January 14, 2011

Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) deplores the attempt made on the life of Néstor Caudi Barrios following repeated threats made by police in the state of Aragua, Venezuela, without the State having adopted measures to protect him even though the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had handed down provisional measures on his behalf. This attack is part of a pattern of persecution and lack of protection being suffered by the Barrios family in Aragua, Venezuela, a situation that has taken the lives of six of its members.

According to what the Inter-American Commission has been told, on January 2, 2011, the young man Néstor Caudi Barrios was on his motorcycle in front of his aunt Eloisa Barrios’ house, in the Las Casitas area in the town of Guanayen, Aragua, when he was intercepted by two motorcyclists wearing civilian clothing and helmets, who proceeded to fire multiple gunshots at him. The information available indicates that Néstor Caudi Barrios was not robbed of any belongings and that he is currently in a hospital.

From 1998 to 2010, six members of the Barrios family were killed: Néstor Caudi Barrios’ two brothers, 15-year-old Rigoberto and Wilmer José Flores; his cousin Oscar, who was 22 years old; and his uncles Benito, Narciso, and Luis. Benito and Narciso Barrios were victims of extrajudicial executions carried out by Aragua police officers, and the IACHR determined in the processing of this case that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that Luis, Rigoberto, and Oscar Barrios were killed in the same way.

The Inter-American Commission and Court have followed up on this situation through all appropriate actions (requests for information, precautionary measures, provisional measures, admissibility reports, reports on the merits, and the submission of the case to the Inter-American Court), but the State of Venezuela has not adopted the necessary measures to protect the lives of the members of this family, which continues to be a victim of murders, arrests, searches, threats, and harassment. Nor has the State provided for effective investigations to be made into these crimes, which remain in impunity.

Néstor Caudi Barrios witnessed the extrajudicial execution of his uncle Narciso Barrios, perpetrated on December 11, 2003, by members of the Aragua state police. Since then, he has received multiple death threats from police officers, especially when the investigations have been reactivated. The death threats were reported many times to the Venezuelan authorities, who did not arrange for any protection measures on his behalf. This situation led Néstor Caudi Barrios to move from his place of residence to protect his life and physical integrity.

Recently the Barrios family had apparently reported to domestic authorities that the harassment by members of the Aragua police was continuing. The information available indicates that on November 29, 2010, several members of the Barrios family had attended a religious commemoration to mark the anniversary of the death of Oscar José Barrios, and that night they had seen, in the vicinity Mrs. Eloisa Barrios’ house, a police officer who had been denounced for allegedly being responsible for various acts of violence against the Barrios family. In response to that situation, on December 17, 2010, the family’s legal representative reportedly filed a complaint with the Victims Care Unit, in order to verify the duties the police officer had been carrying out. According to what the IACHR was told, this complaint was filed away.

The Inter-American Commission expresses its deep concern over the situation of lack of protection and vulnerability in which the members of the Barrios family remain. The IACHR also condemns the Venezuelan State’s repeated failure to arrange for effective protection measures despite the fact that at least since 2004 it has had full knowledge of the extrajudicial executions that began to be perpetrated against the Barrios family.

The IACHR calls to mind that it is the State’s obligation to investigate on its own initiative events of this nature and to punish those responsible. Moreover, the Commission once again urges the Venezuelan State to immediately and urgently adopt all measures necessary to guarantee the right to life, integrity and security of the surviving members of this family.

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 human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.


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