After 38 days of widespread protests in Venezuela 31 people have been killed during demonstrations, hundreds injured, 1737 protesters have been arrested, and 70 journalists have been attacked when covering the protests.
The Venezuelan State must urgently investigate the violence and the excessive use of force against demonstrators and extend an invitation to UN Special Rapporteurs to visit the country and assess the human rights situation.
“As the crisis deepens, the Venezuelan government must take concrete actions beyond discourse to halt violence against demonstrators; to ensure that journalists can do their work and to allow Venezuelans to voice their discontent without fear of being attacked or even killed”, said Paula Martins, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 for South America.
According to reports from Espacio Publico, in a month of protests, 22 media workers were detained, 30 were attacked and 18 robbed, in some cases at gunpoint. 1 TV station was taken off the airwaves whilst reporting on the demonstrations. A dozen newspapers have been closed and almost 100 more are at risk of shutting down because the government has not authorised them to purchase newsprint.
“This trend is extremely worrying as, in the middle of the civil unrest, journalists reporting on protests are being targeted by armed groups and illegally detained by security forces” added Martins. “If the government intends to facilitate dialogue, then it needs to take significant actions to safeguard human rights, like extending invitations to UN Special Rapporteurs to evaluate the situation of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and other rights”.
Mr. Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Mads Andenas, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention; Mr. Juan Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mr. Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; have urged prompt clarification of allegations of arbitrary detention and excessive use of force and violence against protesters, journalists and media workers during the recent wave of protests in the country.