Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern about the Situation of Congressmen of the National Assembly in Venezuela

August 29, 2018

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is concerned about the situation of Juan Requesens, congressman of the Venezuelan National Assembly, who was arrested on August 7, 2018.

According public information, congressman Juan Requesens was accused by the authorities of alleged links with the events of August 4, 2018, which the government described as an attack on the Head of State and its main authorities. The deputy was arrested by members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), without a warrant, and remained incommunicado. The National Constituent Assembly agreed to lift the immunity of Congressman Requesens, and after his arrest, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice decreed his detention as flagrant.

In a video that was released by the authorities, Congressman Requesens is recorded narrating facts that relate him and Congressman Julio Borges to the events of August 4. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice also issued an arrest warrant for Julio Borges, a member of parliament who is the beneficiary of precautionary measures issued by the IACHR.

On 14 August 2018, the court upheld the charges against Congressman Requesens for continuing public litigation, frustrated aggravated murder against the President of the Republic, aggravated murder on futile grounds against the Military High Command and the persons present, terrorism and illegal possession of weapons and explosives.

A number of irregularities have been reported concerning the lifting of parliamentary immunity, the arrest, investigation and trial of Members of Parliament. "The investigations and prosecutions against them must respect due process and judicial guarantees," said IACHR Rapporteur for Venezuela, Francisco Eguiguren. "This includes effective access to his legal defense, and direct participation in the process.”

Another video that was made public showed Congressman Requesens in his underwear and in degrading conditions. In this regard, the IACHR recalls that States must take the necessary measures to ensure that persons deprived of their liberty are held in conditions compatible with human dignity. Similarly, the IACHR stresses that in order not to undermine the right to the presumption of innocence, States must prevent detained persons under investigation from being presented to any means of disseminating information that may be public.

"Considering the special duty that the States have with respect to the persons in their custody, the Venezuelan State has the obligation to provide a dignified treatment to Congressman Requesens that is compatible with the inter-American standards on the matter of deprivation of liberty," said Commissioner Joel Hernández, Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of their Liberty.

The Commission rejects all acts of violence and urges the State to conduct the investigation into the events of 4 August with due diligence, in a serious, transparent, independent and impartial manner. The Commission will continue to monitor this situation.

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. 193/18