ARTICLE 19 urges the Venezuelan government to put an end to the repression of protests by the security forces, including the Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivariana, GNB), the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional, SEBIN), and state-supported armed groups. Such repression has occurred in a number of cities across the country, including Caracas, San Cristóbal, Valencia and Maracay, and has resulted in at least 6 people dead, more than 200 injured and at least 290 arrests.
“We strongly condemn the violence and repression of protests by state security agencies and armed groups in the last 6 days, and we call on the national government to promptly and independently investigate the 5 deaths reported during student demonstrations, as well as the attacks on journalists who were covering the protests”, said Paula Martins, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 for Latin America.
There have been reports of attacks against at least 21 journalists while they were covering the demonstrations. A Colombia-based television channel, NTN24, was taken off the air.
“It is alarming that the state does not guarantee the right of Venezuelans to protest without fear of being attacked or even murdered, and fails to provide the necessary conditions for journalists to carry out their work of reporting on what is happening” added Martins.
The right to protest is enshrined in the Venezuelan Constitution (article 68) and in Venezuela’s international and regional obligations.
With each passing day, the anti-government protests, which initially sought to demand the release of six students detained in Coro, Falcón, take on new social demands such as the country’s lack of security and the shortage of basic commodities.
ARTICLE 19 urges the Venezuelan state to:
- Stop encouraging the stigmatization of protesters and critical voices both in traditional and digital media.
- Immediately investigate the abuses committed during the demostrations, particularly the deaths which have occurred during the protests.
- Report in a timely and accurate manner on unfolding events to counteract the spreading of rumours and false information.