By Carlos Lopez Dorante.
According to the latest report from the Center for Defenders and Justice (CDJ),99 attacks against other NGOs and human-rights workers and activists
were registered in January.
That is roughly 3.3 attacks a day, meaning the cadence of such incidents has picked up since the United Nations recommended in late 2020 that the regime allow NGOs to work unfettered.
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The human-rights record of Maduro is appalling: the International Criminal Court has been investigating the regime since 2018 and now has two investigations open that has been proceeding apace.
Amnesty International in early February requested ICC to open yet another investigation against the regime for 14 alleged extrajudicial executions that took place during a police operation in the La Vega neighborhood of Caracas.
In the study Situation of human rights defenders in Venezuela, presented this February 23, the NGO argues that these attacks reveal the systematic aggression patterns by the State against groups and individuals who defend the human rights of Venezuelans.
“The State must refrain from attacking and hindering the actions of those who document, denounce, make visible and attend to the consequences of the complex humanitarian emergency. Defending human rights and humanitarian action is not a crime,” the NGO argues in its report.
Also, they clarify that 59 of the attacks (60%) were against human rights organizations and NGOs that carry out humanitarian work, and another 40 (40%) were against people and individuals dedicated to the defense of Human Rights.
The NGO highlights the aggressions committed against the members of Azul Positivo, an NGO that defends and cares for HIV patients. Also, the threats against the members of PROVEA, and the accusations against several organizations such as Transparencia Venezuela, Espacio Publico and the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (both NGO’s freedom of expression and the press NGO) and the Centro Justicia y Paz (legal aid), Foro Penal (the top legal-aid NGO for political prisoners) and Provita.
As the responsible for the attacks and aggressions, they point to a large structure of the State which involves top officials of the government and people associated with the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Psuv). Also, attacks include smear tactics through the National System of Public Media.
“We insist that the defense and demand for rights, as well as humanitarian action, are rights recognized by International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, and this generates for the State the obligations to respect, protect and guarantee them,” emphasizes the NGO in its report.
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In this sense, the CDJ assures that it will continue its work of documenting and denouncing the aggression suffered by human rights NGOs. However, they emphasize that a timely and firm response gets needed from the international community.
Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho.