Human-Rights NGOs Call for Caracas Mayor’s Release

EspañolHuman-rights NGO Amnesty International published a statement on Friday, February 20, against the arbitrary detention of Antonio Ledezma, mayor of Caracas. Agents of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) arrested the opposition leader in his office on Thursday afternoon.

Antonio Ledezma was reelected as mayor of Caracas in 2013.
Antonio Ledezma was reelected as mayor of Caracas in 2013. (Wikimedia)

Amnesty called the arrest “worrisome” and “unacceptable” and said: “In the current Venezuelan context, there is nothing left but to assume that once again, the authorities are not interested in prioritizing human rights protection, but silencing dissenting voices.”

The NGO published a blog on Friday condemning Ledezma’s arrest titled “Venezuela, the Witch Hunt Continues?” Amnesty emphasized that the arrest was executed without a warrant or evidence against the mayor. They add that this case serves as example of the current state of human rights in the country, and suggest the situation is likely to worsen.

“As long as Venezuelan authorities fail to prioritize human rights and understand that, under the rule of law, there must be room for dissent, the country will continue in a downward spiral that will disproportionally affect the most vulnerable,” the blog warns.

On February 9, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, met in London with Amnesty Intentional Secretary General Salil Shetty, who reiterated the organization’s call for all political prisoners to be released.

In its statement, the human rights NGO also mentions the arrest of Judge Alí Fabricio Paredes, who was detained “allegedly as a consequence of the sentence he would have given in a high-profile case that did not satisfy the wishes of the Executive.” Amnesty also raised concern over the arrest of the attorney Tadeo Arriechi, claiming it was “retaliation for the performance of his duties as a lawyer for a company accused of destabilizing the economy.”

The local organization Venezuelan Penal Forum estimates that 61 people remain imprisoned as a result of anti-government protests in February 2014, including the deposed mayor of San Cristóbal, Daniel Ceballos, and Popular Will party leader Leopoldo López.

Human Rights Watch Joins the Call

The international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) also called for the release of Antonio Ledezma.

“Without evidence of a crime, the mayor should have never been detained and should be freed immediately. If not, we will be facing a new case of arbitrary detention against government opponents, in a country where there is no judicial independence,” said José Miguel Vivanco, director of HRW’s Americas division.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said on Thursday that Ledezma will be prosecuted “for all his crimes against the peace of the country.”

Source: El Universal.

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