Published On: Mon, Jul 3rd, 2017

Venezuela’s embattled Chief Prosecutor asks for protection as rift with government deepens

Luisa-Ortega1CARACAS - Friction between Venezuela’s chief prosecutor and President Nicolas Maduro’s administration has been intensifying since she challenged a Supreme Court decision in late March that dissolved the opposition-controlled National Assembly, triggering almost daily street protests.

Since then, Luisa Ortega Diaz has remained defiant, becoming one of the few critical voices within the government, contesting Maduro’s push to rewrite the constitution, and pressing charges against officers responsible for deaths during anti-government protests.

Prosecutors are also said to be investigating incidents of illegitimate detentions, cases in which people have remained imprisoned despite court orders that they be freed, and arbitrary raids.

Now, within days of the Supreme Court barring her from leaving the country and ordering her bank accounts frozen, Ortega Diaz has asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection.

The request was extended to include her staff, with Ortega Diaz announcing on Twitter that she was seeking the protection of the human rights organization for all workers at the state prosecutor’s office.

While she provided no further details, it is alleged that members of her family have been threatened and harassed.

The Washington-based Inter-American Commission, which is an agency of the Organization of American States (OAS), is responsible for protecting human rights throughout the hemisphere.

Ortega Diaz is a longtime supporter of the socialist government founded by the late President Hugo Chavez, and believes that Maduro is destroying this legacy.

Of late, however, she has become a thorn in the president’s side as he attempts to proceed with a constitution rewrite that she has roundly dismissed.

“I don’t recognize these decisions,” she said this week in denouncing the Supreme Court’s move to allow the ombudsman to carry out criminal investigations.

“I will defend Venezuela’s constitution and democracy even if it costs me my life.”

Three months of social and political upheaval in Venezuela sparked by the March Supreme Court decision have left at least 77 people dead, hundreds injured and thousands detained.

The protests continued last weekend.

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