MP and gay rights activist Rosmit Mantilla needs urgent surgery for multiple gallstones
Prisoner of conscience should not be in jail at all
The Venezuelan authorities’ denial of medical care to a severely-ill jailed opposition leader shows the cruel lengths to which they prepared to go in order to stifle dissent in the country, Amnesty International said today.
Rosmit Mantilla, a Venezuelan member of parliament and human rights activist, was scheduled to undergo surgery for multiple bladder stones, recurrent gallbladder attacks and gastric wall thickening on 31 October. However, despite a judge’s order, he was instead placed in a punishment cell in a prison in the capital Caracas. His health has been rapidly deteriorating since then.
Mantilla is an activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI), and a member of the opposition party Voluntad Popular (Popular Will). Since his arrest in May 2014 he’s been in arbitrary pre-trial detention in the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service facilities in Caracas.
Mantilla is accused of receiving money to finance anti-government protests that took place between February and July 2014, where the only evidence appears to be anonymous testimony. Amnesty has been given access to the charges against him and strongly believes there is no credible evidence to support the accusation. Instead, the charges appear to stem solely from the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly - Amnesty consider Mantilla to be a prisoner of conscience.
Failing to provide adequate health care to prisoners may violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Venezuela is a state party.
Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said:
“Rosmit should have never been put in prison in the first place.
“The authorities in Venezuela seem to be playing an incredibly dangerous game to stop anyone from speaking out about the dire and deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
“They seem willing to push people like Rosmit to the verge of death as punishment for voicing their opinions.
“The fact that this is all happening while the world’s eyes are on Venezuela beggars belief. If the authorities fail to act, they will have blood on their hands.”