Press Release

IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of People at Risk in Venezuela

February 22, 2019

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Washington, D.C. — On February 19, 2019, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 3/2019 granting precautionary protection measures in favor of Oswaldo García Palomo, José Romel Acevedo Montañez, Alberto José Salazar Cabañas, Miguel Ambrosio Palacio Salcedo, and José Labichela Barrios in Venezuela, whom it deems to be at serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their human rights.

According to the petition, Oswaldo Valentín García Palomo and Romel Acevedo Montañez, who are both colonels; Alberto José Salazar Cabañas, who is a first lieutenant; Miguel Ambrosio Palacio Salcedo, who is a sergeant; and civilian Antonio José Labichela Barrios are allegedly being deprived of their freedom at the headquarters of the Department of Military Counterintelligence in Venezuela.

The IACHR noted that the petition alleged that the beneficiaries had been subjected to acts of torture and ill-treatment. This allegedly included beatings, being hung from their wrists while handcuffed, and being injected with substances. As a result of these beatings, the beneficiaries are allegedly suffering from serious injuries but have not received medical treatment. On this point, the IACHR noted that according to the information it had received, José Labichela Barrios had reportedly been transferred to a military hospital in critical condition and at risk of losing one of his legs, which is allegedly infected, but has not had access to specialist care. According to the petition, several of the events described above had already been reported at the hearing held before Military Tribunal 1 in Caracas, such that the state was aware of the detainees’ predicaments.

In its Resolution, the IACHR noted that the state of Venezuela had requested an extension to the period of time it had been granted to put forward information regarding the allegations in the petition. In view of the seriousness of these allegations and, in particular, the fact that the state is the guarantor of the beneficiaries’ rights because they are being deprived of their freedom and are in its custody, the IACHR deemed it appropriate that precautionary measures be adopted. The IACHR will evaluate any information provided by the state in due course when deciding whether these measures should remain in force.

Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR requested that the state of Venezuela take the necessary measures to protect the right to life and personal integrity and health of Oswaldo García Palomo, José Romel Acevedo Montañez, Alberto José Salazar Cabañas, Miguel Ambrosio Palacio Salcedo, and José Labichela Barrios. Specifically, the IACHR requested that the state ensure that its agents respect the beneficiaries’ right to life and guaranteed that they have access to appropriate medical care as befits their current health status and specialist recommendations.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the state does not entail a prejudgment on any petition that may eventually be filed before the inter-American system to allege that the rights protected by the American Convention and other applicable instruments have been violated.

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. 041/19