Press Release

IACHR and UN Rapporteur Concerned over Continued Harassment of Lilian Tintori in Venezuela

November 10, 2015

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Washington, D.C.-The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, express their concern over the continued harassment of Lilian Tintori and her family in the context of their visits of Leopoldo López at the National Center for Military Defendants (CENAPROMIL), also known as the "Ramo Verde" Prison, in Venezuela.

Lilian Tintori and Patricia Ceballos held a working meeting with the IACHR on October 21, 2015, during the Commission's 156th session, concerning Precautionary Measure 335/14. The IACHR had granted this measure on April 20, 2015, for Leopoldo López and Daniel Ceballos, asking the State to adopt the necessary measures to protect their rights to life and humane treatment and to ensure their detention conditions were brought in line with international standards. On October 12, 2015, the IACHR decided to extend this precautionary measure to protect the lives and physical integrity of Lilian Tintori, Patricia Ceballos, and their respective children, after receiving information that they are at risk due to alleged acts of violence and harassment. In the October 21 working meeting, in which Venezuelan officials participated, the IACHR received information concerning the lack of compliance with the precautionary measure and the obstacles faced by Leopoldo López's family members when they  visit him.

The IACHR and the UN Special Rapporteur are concerned about reports that Leopoldo López's family members continue to face the same obstacles to visits, despite the precautionary measures in effect and the meeting that was held. According to allegations received in the course of monitoring the precautionary measures issued by the IACHR, Lilian Tintori was forced to undress and was subjected to body searches that fail to meet the minimal international standards, during which she has been a target of verbal aggression with a sexual content. During the visits, she and her children were also reportedly held in an area under lock and key. This is despite the fact that the precautionary measures by the Commission urged the State to ensure that Leopoldo López's detention conditions are brought in line with international standards, including the conditions under which visits should be carried out.

Under international standards, bodily searches of persons deprived of liberty and their visitors shall not be carried out indiscriminately, but shall comply with criteria of necessity, reasonableness, and proportionality. They shall also be carried out under adequate sanitary conditions by qualified personnel of the same sex, and shall be compatible with human dignity and respect for fundamental rights. In line with the foregoing, Member States shall employ alternative means through technological equipment and procedures or other appropriate methods.

Given that it has been 20 months since Leopoldo López was deprived of liberty, and taking into account all the pronouncements and decisions by various international bodies, the IACHR and Special Rapporteur Forst condemn the repeated noncompliance by the State of Venezuela and its complete disregard of its international commitments.  The Inter-American Commission and the Un Special Rapporteur urge the State of Venezuela to take the necessary measures to ensure its immediate compliance with all the international recommendations indicated and avoid potentially causing irreparable harm to the rights of the beneficiaries of IACHR precautionary measures.

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 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.

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. The UN human rights experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

No. 128/15