Press Release

IACHR Issues Protection Measures in Favor of Rafael Acosta Arévalo’s Family in Venezuela

October 9, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 49/2019 on October 1, 2019, to grant precautionary protection measures in favor of Rafael Acosta Arévalo’s family in Venezuela, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable damage to their rights.

According to the request for these protection measures, Mr. Rafael Acosta Arévalo’s family and his wife’s family are allegedly being followed and subjected to intimidation by officers of the State after his death in State custody.

The Commission was informed in July of the death—probably as a result of torture—of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo, while he was in the custody of the General Department of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM, by its Spanish acronym). The Communications Ministry said in a statement that the government had launched an investigation into this case. The Commission reminded the State of its obligation to prevent and punish torture and to inform the Commission of any measures taken to that effect, in keeping with the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.

The request for these precautionary measures noted that Mr. Rafael Acosta Arévalo’s family have taken varied action in their search for truth and justice, to demand clarification concerning the circumstances of his death. The request further said that Mr. Acosta Arévalo’s family and lawyers had not been allowed to access his remains. The Commission took into particular consideration that beneficiaries are allegedly being followed and subjected to surveillance by officers of the State, and that his in-laws’ home was recently raided.

The Commission noted that beneficiaries had no prior protection measures, despite the major controversy and the high profile surrounding this case in the media, in a context where repression is allegedly common against anyone who is critical of the government.

In keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the State of Venezuela to take any measures necessary to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of members of Rafael Acosta Arévalo’s family; to come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representative regarding any measures that need to be adopted; and to report on any actions taken to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the Inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.

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. 254/19