Protection and/or recourse available to persons targeted by corrupt members of the National Guard (March 2003) [VEN40828.E]

Though the Research Directorate could not find specific information regarding protection and recourse available to persons targeted by corrupt members of the National Guard, the following information about the judiciary and the National Guard may be of interest.

According to a 2002 report by the Caracas-based human rights organization called Committee of Family Members of the Victims of the Unrest (Comite de Familias de las Victimas de los Sucesos de Febrero y Marzo de 1989, COFAVIC), there is a "systematic and endemic absence of responsibilities" (una ausencia sistematica y endemica de repsonsibilidades) within the judiciary in Venezuela (COFAVIC Jan.-Aug. 2002). More specifically, COFAVIC noted that legal proceedings have not been initiated in 90 percent of cases involving human rights violations (ibid.). Moreover, COFAVIC stated that the main causes of this "endemic impunity" (impunidad endemica) are issues such as legislative delay, uncertainty of the rules and laws of the state, lack of impartiality within the judicial system, and the lack of access to justice and the courts by excluded and marginalized groups (ibid.).

This information was corroborated by Amnesty International in a 22 November 2002 press release:

The rule of law has been weakened by the climate of impunity, extreme political polarization, the imminent risk of social upheaval, the militarization and politicization of the armed forces and police forces, and the apparent inability of the state to guarantee human rights to its citizens in an impartial and effective way

In its World Report 2003, Human Rights Watch provided an example of judicial impunity involving police officers accused of committing murder:

At this writing, fourteen policemen were in detention in Barquisimeto, state of Lara, facing charges for killings in Portuguesa. In most cases the judiciary either failed to detain and charge those responsible for killings attributed to the police, or trials were subject to excessive delays. Victims' family members and lawyers suffered death threats. Miguel Ángel Zambrano, a former inspector of the Portuguesa police who had carried out investigations into the activities of the death squads, kept receiving anonymous death threats by telephone, and was beaten and threatened by police officers who confronted him in person. Unidentified individuals he believed to be linked to the police shot at him twice, leading him to go into hiding. In Falcón, the state police commander lodged criminal complaints against people who denounced killings for "insulting the police" (2003).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Amnesty International (AI). 22 November 2002. "Venezuela: Guarantee Rule of Law - An Urgent Task For All." (AI Index: AMR 53/016/2002) http://web.amnesty.org/library/IndexPrint/ENGAMR530162002?open [Accessed 27 Mar. 2003]

Comite de Familias de las Victimas de los Sucesos de Febrero y Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC). January/August 2002. Balance Democracia y Derechos Humanos. http://www.cofavic.org.ve/InformeENE-AGO2002.pdf [Accessed 27 Mar. 2003]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2003. "Venezuela." World Report 2003. http://hrw.org/wr2k3/print.cgi?americas10.html [Accessed 27 Mar. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted


IRB databases

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites:

Guardia Nacional

Reforma [Mexico City]

Terra.com

Transparency International (TI)

El Universal [Caracas]

Search engine:

Google