Press Release

IACHR Brings Venezuela Case before the IA Court

November 19, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - On August 8, 2019, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court) over the case of Olimpiades González and others, concerning Venezuela.

The case relates to the illegal arbitrary detention of Olimpiades González and his relatives María Angélica González, Belkis Mirelis González, Fernando González, Wilmer Antonio Barliza, and Luis Guillermo González by state agents in November 1998 and January 1999. The IACHR also observed that these individuals were subjected to pretrial detention as part of criminal proceedings for the crime of homicide that turned out to be arbitrary.

The IACHR reached the following conclusions: i) the length of time for which four of the victims were held in pretrial detention was unreasonable due to the absence of a periodic review; ii) the legal remedies presented by the victims to call their detention into question proved unsuitable and ineffective for obtaining due legal protection; and iii) the case entailed a violation of the victims’ right to not be imprisoned with convicted criminals, as they were accused individuals who had not been convicted themselves.

Furthermore, the IACHR deemed that the state is responsible for the murder of Olimpiades González in 2006. This is due to the fact that the state did not conduct its investigation with due diligence despite the risk the victim faced, which he had alerted the authorities to. The state did not carry out its own risk assessment to determine Mr. González’s situation, nor did it adopt protective measures in his favor. The IACHR concluded that this defenselessness led to the murder of Mr. González, allegedly by someone with ties to the sources of risk he had reported.

In its Merits Reports, the IACHR made recommendations to the state of Venezuela that included the following: i) provide compensation and measures of satisfaction for the victims; ii) implement investigations to identify all those responsible for the death of Olimpiades González; and iii) establish measures of nonrepetition so that events such as this do not happen again.

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. 299/19