Transparency International chapters from around the world call for the preservation of peace and democracy in Venezuela

Berlin, 17 March 2014, Transparency International.

On the occasion of the current session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Transparency International national chapters from around the world are sending letters of concern to their respective Foreign Offices asking their government to take a clear stance on the recent human rights violations, unconstitutional developments and corrupt practices in Venezuela.

In Venezuela, citizens are being attacked as they protest against the high levels of insecurity and crime, soaring inflation and corruption. In responding to the peaceful demonstrations, the government has denied Venezuelans their basic freedoms, including access to information, peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Dozens of people have reportedly been killed, injured, tortured and unlawfully detained since the protests started at the beginning of February.

“Those countries who are pretending the situation in Venezuela is business as usual, are choosing to ignore the lack of good governance and basic democratic principles in the country. The international community has an obligation to speak up”, said Alejandro Salas, Transparency International’s Regional Director for the Americas.

The global anti-corruption coalition, calls on the member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to raise their voice in protest at the current state of affairs in Venezuela when Item 4 on country situations is discussed on 17-18 March. The Venezuelan government needs to immediately guarantee the right of citizens to access to information, free speech and freedom of assembly. The government must work towards ending the widespread corruption that is plaguing the country and stop the harassment of independent media and journalists, including lifting the continued information blackouts in the country.

The denial of citizens’ access to impartial and uncensored information, limitations to peaceful protest, and denials of due process are not only unconstitutional, but clearly violate the states’ obligations under articles 19(2), 21 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Venezuelan authorities must investigate these violations and the violence that has occurred during demonstrations in an independent, accountable and transparent manner.

Corruption, understood as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, and weak institutions exacerbate the current situation. Their limited autonomy makes them ineffective in guaranteeing the rights of all citizens and upholding democratic principles and the rule of law. Venezuelan institutions and the government have a responsibility to respect and protect people’s civil liberties. Peaceful protests are a rightful feature of any democratic society. It should be legitimate for citizens to demand and aspire for a government and a social environment free of daily corruption.