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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Venezuela government violating basic human rights: report
Carrie Schimizzi at 8:02 AM ET

[JURIST] The Venezuelan government is continuously violating basic human rights [press release], particularly freedom of expression, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for the Organization of American States (OAS) [official website] said in a report [text] released Wednesday. The Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela report provides a detailed analysis on the state of human rights in the country, led by President Hugo Chavez [JURIST news archive], and ultimately concludes that not all citizens are ensured full enjoyment of their basic human rights. The IACHR, which prepared the report without being able to visit Venezuela due to the country's refusal, said that threats to human rights and democracy are serious issues. In particular, the report details the lack of freedom of expression, citing accounts in which the State is "punishing people based on their political convictions." The report also notes a lack of punishment for cases involving violence:

Acts of retaliation to quash dissent; attacks against human rights defenders and against journalists; repression of peaceful protest; abuse by State agents and common and organized crime; violence in the prison system; violence against women; and other grave violations of human rights are all characterized in Venezuela by the high levels of impunity associated with them.

The report cites improvements in the areas of economic, social, and cultural rights, but maintains that every citizen should be able to enjoy all basis rights, including civil and political rights. The report insists on Venezuela's compliance with the obligations it "freely assumed under the American Convention" and with the recommendations laid out by the IACHR in its report.

Venezuela has been criticized repeatedly for its limits on freedom of expression and religion. Last year, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) added Venezuela to its "watch list" [JURIST report] of countries that limit religious freedom. Also last year, the US State Department criticized Venezuela for press restrictions [JURIST report] in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. In 2008, Venezuelan officials ordered two senior Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] staff to leave the country [JURIST report] after the group released a report concluding that democracy and human rights have suffered during the Chavez administration.

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