Venezuela: Maduro Dictatorship Uses Legal System to Persecute Political Prisoners

The Venezuelan legal system, completely controlled by Nicolas Maduro, is using a series of unconstitutional postponements to deny political prisoners their right to a fair trial.

Opposition deputy Juan Requesens has been in custody for 133 days without a hearing (Twitter).

The dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro, which enjoys an iron grip on the judicial branch, is once again violating citizens’ rights to legal defense, after postponing the first legal hearing for opposition deputy Juan Requesens, accused of participating in an assassination attempt against Maduro, despite a complete lack of evidence.

After 133 days in prison, Requesens has not been able to defend himself or attend his preliminary hearing, which is a legal right established by national and international legal standards. This is in addition to the fact that as a deputy he already enjoyed parliamentary immunity. Nonetheless, he was still detained by the Venezuelan dictatorship.

The political prisoner’s legal defense team denounced that two hours after the hearing was scheduled, the court notified them of the postponement. “We were informed that the hearing was deferred because the attorney general requested it,” said attorney Joel García.

García warned that the Venezuelan state has demonstrated a pattern which it applies to most cases of a political nature, which consists of holding people in custody without bringing them to trial: “At the request of the Attorney General’s Office the Republic, the preliminary hearing for the deputy Juan Requesens was postponed to 01/24/2019. This is the delay that the regime imposes on all political prisoners as a systematic pattern in violation of human rights.”

“The court, prosecutors, and police are conspiring to violate an individual’s human rights. Juan Requesens will be imprisoned this Christmas when he should not be. He should be in his residence, as established by the Constitution with regard to deputies facing prosecution,” said his attorney.

Requesens was charged by the illegitimate Chavista Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, for the alleged commission of seven crimes, linked to a failed assassination attempt against Maduro on August 4, 2018. So far there is no known evidence against him.

And with this postponement of his hearing, Requesens now embarks on a legal “odyssey,” in which he will have to wait to be able to appear before a judge while still detained. His case could resemble that of Lorent Saleh, who after imprisoned more than 4 years in the headquarters of the SEBIN, experienced a total of 53 postponed preliminary hearings. That is, after evidence was presented, it was never heard again before a judge and his lawyers could not publicly refute the alleged evidence against him.

The lawyer and defender of human rights, Tamara Suju, questioned the decisions of the government of Maduro in the case of Requesens. Through her account on Twitter, Suju said that such actions by the government demonstrate unjustified postponement to keep the victims “in total defenselessness” for months and years.

In Venezuela there are 410 political prisoners, opposed to the current Chavista dictatorship.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “concerned”

On Tuesday, December 18, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed “its deep concern about the serious situation of human rights in Venezuela.”

The group denounced the rupture of Constitutional order, alleging that “the principle of separation of powers” was being ignored and that “there is a lack of independence of the nation’s institutions.”

It added that “this critical situation has affected the rule of law, and a socio-economic crisis,” and warned that the economic collapse has worsened “alarmingly in recent years.”

On Tuesday, December 18, the legitimate National Assembly of Venezuela, which enjoys a majority in Venezuela’s legitimate legislative branch, denounced the deprivation of liberty and “torture” of political prisoners.

The legislative body repudiated and condemned the illegitimate deprivation of liberty, torture, and cruel and inhuman treatment applied by authorities of the national government against political, civilian, and military prisoners who are currently subject to criminal prosecution.

Deputy Delsa Solorzano stressed that this has been a very hard year in terms of violation of human rights: “we started the year with a televised massacre, that of Oscar Pérez and a group of 7 Venezuelans who were killed by the state. From then on we have not stopped seeing cases of murders such as that of Fernando Albán.”

She explained that the National Assembly is also decrying a crackdown on labor rights because there are trade unionists who are imprisoned, as well as journalists, and the government is also politically persecuting nurses, doctors, and all those who raise their voices against the dictatorship.

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