Press Release

IACHR Condemns New Imprisonment of Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma in Venezuela

August 1, 2017

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Guatemala City, Guatemala — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemns the operations carried out early Tuesday, August 1, 2017, by members of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) in Venezuela to remove opposition leader Leopoldo López and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma from their homes and put them back in prison.

According to information made public, the two men were forcibly taken, in the early morning hours, from their homes in the city of Caracas, where they were under house arrest. Images were broadcast showing that the SEBIN officers were heavily armed and masked. The Venezuelan State said the measures were justified after both leaders issued public statements expressing their rejection of the National Constituent Assembly, and because they were allegedly planning to escape.

Their whereabouts were not immediately known; then it was announced publicly that the men had been transferred to the military prison known as “Ramo Verde.” However, the families and attorneys of Mr. López and Mr. Ledezma have said that they have not yet been able to talk to the two men or verify their physical condition.

Leopoldo López is a beneficiary of precautionary measures handed down by the IACHR on April 20, 2015, in which the Commission requested that the State of Venezuela protect his life and personal integrity.

The recent transfer of Mr. López and Mr. Ledezma to house arrest had implied an improvement in their conditions of detention. Imprisoning them again is not only a serious setback to their rights, but also an act that aggravates the political crisis in Venezuela, because the Venezuelan government is returning to repressive measures and political intolerance that seek to stifle freedom of expression and dissident voices.

The IACHR calls on the Venezuelan authorities to protect the life and personal integrity of Mr. Ledezma and Mr. López, and to ensure that they are afforded due process of law.

The IACHR will continue to keep watch on developments related to the situation of Mr. López and Mr. Ledezma, and will continue monitoring the situation in Venezuela in detail.

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. 112/17