On behalf of Transparency International Croatia and as member of Transparency International, I would like to express our deep concern about the current violence and worsening human rights situation in Venezuela.
Transparency International is a global movement of more than a hundred non-governmental organisations sharing one vision: a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption. Our organisation, Transparency International Croatia, is part of the global Transparency International movement, and our mission is to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels of society.
We are extremely alarmed by the current events in Venezuela where citizens are attacked as they protest against the insecurity, violence, corruption and inflation that are plaguing the country. In responding to the protests, 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 when students began peaceful mass demonstrations against the government and spread of corrupt practices.
Transparency International calls on the Venezuelan government to immediately guarantee the right of citizens to access to information, freedom of expression and assembly. The government must end 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. It must not be used to prosecute political opponents.
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. Democracy should not only be a matter of Election Day, but should be lived every day. 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.
Transparency International Croatia calls on the government of Croatia to take a clear stance on the recent human rights violations and unconstitutional developments in Venezuela. We would urge you to begin by using the current session of the UN Human Rights Council to raise your concerns about the situation in Venezuela under Item 4 on country situations (March 17-18 2014).
Transparency International chapters from around the world are sending similar letters of concern to their respective Foreign Ministers. Together we are asking the international community to call for the preservation of peace and democracy in Venezuela.