Published On: Fri, Sep 12th, 2014

US concerned over lack of due process in Venezuela

HarfWASHINGTON, USA -- The US State Department said on Thursday it is deeply concerned by the lack of due process or fair trial guarantees for persons detained in relation to protests in Venezuela.

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, mayors Enzo Scarano and Daniel Ceballos, and approximately 70 protesters remain incarcerated -- some for more than seven months, many without any formal charges. The judge in the trial of Lopez denied his requests to present evidence in his defence. According to local NGOs, more than 1,700 individuals have pending charges and have not received a court date.

While not all those individuals are imprisoned, we remain deeply troubled by the opaque justice procedures in place,” said State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf.

In February, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed deep concern about the alleged use of criminal proceedings to punish peaceful protesters and government critics. In March, six UN Special Rapporteurs asked the Venezuelan government to clarify allegations of arbitrary detention and excessive use of force and violence against protesters.

According to Harf, their concerns went unheeded by the Venezuelan government and allegations of arbitrary detention of protesters -- some in military facilities -- torture, and denial of legal assistance continue.

“The Venezuelan government has an obligation to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international law. As a long-time party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Venezuela is required to promptly inform all persons detained of any charges against them and to either release them or guarantee them a fair and public trial before an independent and impartial tribunal without undue delay. With this in mind, and consistent with the values and spirit of the Inter American Democratic Charter, we call upon the government of Venezuela to provide all those detained the legal protections and fair trials to which they are entitled,” Harf concluded.

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