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NGO prisoners of conscience conditionally released

NGO prisoners of conscience conditionally released

Protect the human
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Azul Positivo is a non-governmental and humanitarian organization that since 2004 works to promote inclusion, understanding and treatment to HIV+ patients, as well as transversal issues such as sexually transmitted infections, diversity and sexual violence. Since 2006, they have developed community-based projects in various towns and cities in Zulia State (Western Venezuela). Through their work, they have contributed to the work of state public health entities, such as the National Service of Medicine and Forensic Sciences, the Regional AIDS Programme and the Ministry of Health. They have also been an ally of United Nations System agencies such as UNAIDS, UNHCR and UNFPA, implementing projects on the border with Colombia on sexual and reproductive health.

On 12 January 2021, at approximately 11:30 a.m., a commission of at least 15 officials from the General Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence (DGCIM) went to the headquarters of the civil society organisation Azul Positivo located in the Aventura shopping centre in the city of Maracaibo to carry out an alleged administrative procedure related to the humanitarian assistance activities that the organization carries out in various communities in Zulia State. 

For over six hours, the directors and several members of the team were held at their offices and interrogated about their humanitarian work. After this time, Johan León Reyes, Yordy Bermúdez, Layners Gutiérrez Díaz, Alejandro Gómez Di Maggio and Miguel Guerra Raydan, all of them civilians, were taken to the DGCIM headquarters, without having access to legal assistance during that time. Later in the day, another worker at Azul Positivo, Luis Ferrebuz was arrested at his home by DGCIM officials. Miguel Guerra was later released.

On 14 January, all five detainees were brought before an ordinary civilian court and formally charged with trumped up crimes, namely unlawful acquisition of goods and services, money laundering and association to commit crimes. This attack on Azul Positivo comes at a time of heightened government stigmatization and harassment of other civil society organizations, particularly targeting their international funding. With over 15 years of respected, trusted and impactful humanitarian work, Azul Positivo is highly regarded by international aid organizations and local partners and activists. 

On 10 February, all five prisoners of consciences were conditionally released, subject to undue restrictions to their freedom, including facing criminal charges and having to report themselves to court every 30 days. Their conditional release came after widespread international outrage, including support from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Nicolás Maduro’s government has implemented a policy of repression and continually harassed, prosecuted and censored activists and civil society organizations working to protect the rights of Venezuelans amidst a humanitarian complex crisis and a deep human rights crisis that has forced Venezuelans to flee in unprecedented numbers in search of safety and a dignified future abroad. By December 2020, over 5.4 million had fled the country.

All these events are not isolated. Since the beginning of January, civil society in Venezuela has reported a new crackdown wave against human rights activists and human rights defenders, mainly focusing on criminalizing international cooperation. This new set of repressive attacks have also affected independent media outlets. 
Last year, a report from the independent international fact-finding mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela documented hundreds of cases of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment committed in the country since 2014, and concluded that these grave human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity.
 

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HUMANITARIAN NGO STAFF ARE PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE

Humanitarian NGO staff are prisoners of conscience

Venezuela
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Please note that the postal services are unreliable in Venezuela. The most reliable way to send your letter to target is to email to the embassy (details in the full UA).

 

Azul Positivo is a non-governmental organization that since 2004 works to promote inclusion, understanding and treatment to HIV+ patients, as well as transversal issues such as sexually transmitted infections, diversity and sexual violence. Since 2006, they have developed community-based projects in various towns and cities in Zulia State (Western Venezuela). Through their work, they have contributed to the work of state public health entities, such as the National Service of Medicine and Forensic Sciences, the Regional AIDS Programme and the Ministry of Health. They have also been an ally of United Nations System agencies such as UNAIDS, UNHCR and UNFPA, implementing projects on the border with Colombia on sexual and reproductive health.

On 12 January 2021, at approximately 11:30 a.m., a commission of at least 15 officials from the General Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence (DGCIM) went to the headquarters of the civil society organisation Azul Positivo located in the Aventura shopping centre in the city of Maracaibo to carry out an alleged administrative procedure related to the humanitarian assistance activities that the organization carries out in various communities in Zulia State. 

For over 6 hours, the directors and several members of the team were held at their offices and interrogated about their humanitarian work. After this time, Johan León Reyes, Yordy Bermúdez, Layners Gutiérrez Díaz, Alejandro Gómez Di Maggio and Miguel Guerra Raydan, were taken to the DGCIM headquarters, without having access to legal assistance during that time. Later in the day, another worker at Azul Positivo, Luis Ferrebuz was arrested at his home by DGCIM officials. Miguel Guerra was later released.

On 14 January, all five detainees were brought before a court and formally charged with trumped up crimes, namely unlawful acquisition of goods and services, money laundering and association to commit crimes. This attack on Azul Positivo comes at a time of heightened government stigmatization and harassment of other civil society organizations, particularly targeting their international funding. With over 15 years of respected, trusted and impactful humanitarian work, Azul Positivo is highly regarded by international aid organizations and local partners and activists. 

Nicolás Maduro’s government has implemented a policy of repression and continually harassed, prosecuted and censored activists and civil society organizations working to protect the rights of Venezuelans amidst a humanitarian complex crisis and a deep human rights crisis that has forced Venezuelans to flee in unprecedented numbers in search of safety and a dignified future abroad. By December 2020, over 5.4 million had fled the country.

All these events are not isolated. Since the beginning of January, civil society in Venezuela has reported a new crackdown wave against human rights activists and human rights defenders, mainly focusing on criminalizing international cooperation. This new set of repressive attacks have also affected independent media outlets. 
Last year, a report from the independent international fact-finding mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela documented hundreds of cases of extrajudicial executions; enforced disappearances; arbitrary detentions; and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment committed in the country since 2014, and concluded that these grave human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity.
 

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MILITARY ARBITRARILY DETAIN NGO STAFF

Military arbitrarily detain NGO staff

Protest
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Please note that the postal services are unreliable in Venezuela. The most reliable way to send your letter to target is to email to the embassy (details in the full UA).

 

Azul Positivo is a non-governmental organization that since 2004 works to promote inclusion, understanding and treatment to HIV+ patients, as well as transversal issues such as sexually transmitted infections, diversity and sexual violence. Since 2006, they have developed community-based projects in various towns and cities in Zulia State (Western Venezuela). Through their work, they have contributed to the work of state public health entities, such as the National Service of Medicine and Forensic Sciences, the Regional AIDS Programme and the Ministry of Health. They have also been an ally of United Nations System agencies such as UNAIDS, UNHCR and UNFPA, implementing projects on the border with Colombia on sexual and reproductive health.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Zulia (CODHEZ), on 12 January 2021, at approximately 11:30 a.m., a commission of at least 15 officials from the General Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence (DGCIM) went to the headquarters of the civil society organisation Azul Positivo located in the Aventura shopping centre in the city of Maracaibo to carry out an alleged administrative procedure related to the humanitarian assistance activities that the organization carries out in various communities in Zulia State. 

For more than 6 hours, the directors and several members of the team were held at their offices and interrogated about their humanitarian work. After this time, Johan León Reyes, Yordy Bermúdez, Layners Gutiérrez Díaz, Alejandro Gómez Di Maggio and Miguel Guerra Raydan, were allegedly taken to the DGCIM headquarters, without having access to legal assistance during that time. Later in the day, another worker at Azul Positivo, Luis Ferrebuz was arrested at his home by DGCIM officials. Miguel Guerra was reportedly released.

Nicolás Maduro’s government has implemented a policy of repression and continually harassed, prosecuted and censored activists and civil society organizations working to protect the rights of Venezuelans amidst a humanitarian complex crisis and a deep human rights crisis that has forced Venezuelans to flee in unprecedented numbers in search of safety and a dignified future abroad. By December 2020, over 5.4 million had fled the country.

All these events are not isolated. Since the beginning of January, civil society in Venezuela has reported a new crackdown wave against human rights activists and human rights defenders, mainly focusing on criminalizing international cooperation. This new set of repressive attacks have also affected independent media outlets. 

Last year, a report from the independent international fact-finding mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela documented hundreds of cases of extrajudicial executions; enforced disappearances; arbitrary detentions; and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment committed in the country since 2014, and concluded that these grave human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity.
 

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Tens of thousands locked up in "punitive" state-run quarantine centres across Venezuela, El Salvador and Paraguay - new report

90,000 Venezuelans, 16,000 Salvadorians and 8,000 Paraguayans locked up in mandatory quarantine State-run quarantine centres, often insanitary and inhumane, used to punish those who broke national lockdowns Venezuelan refugees described as “biological weapons” and locked up “Authorities have converted a public health intervention into a punitive response” – Erika Guevara-Rosas Tens of thousands of people have been held in “punitive and repressive” state-run quarantine centres in Venezuela, El Salvador and Paraguay since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Amnesty International said in a new

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INCOMMUNICADO DETAINEE RELEASED

Incommunicado detainee released

Venezuela
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CHARGES DROPPED AND DETAINEE RELEASED

Charges dropped and detainee released

Venezuela
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CHARGES AGAINST DETAINEE MUST BE DROPPED

Charges against detainee must be dropped

Nights of terror
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As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicolás Maduro’s government has used this crisis to further expand and abuse its power. The government has significantly escalated its use of arbitrary detentions of opposition members, real or perceived, as well as other critics. Furthermore, there is evidence of torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial executions committed by the Maduro government. 

On 13 July 2020, unidentified officers showed up at Nicmer Evans’ home and, after harassing his wife and family, arbitrarily detained him. He was held incommunicado until 17 July, when he was brought before a court without informing his lawyers and family, therefore denying him the right to a fair trial. During this hearing, Nicmer was accused of “advocacy of hatred”, a crime under a controversial “Constitutional Law Against Hatred, for Peaceful Coexistence and Tolerance”, also known simply as the Law Against Hatred from 2017, based on messages on social media that allegedly “expressed opinions that go against the ideology of Nicolas Maduro”. According to his lawyers, the evidence brought against him by the public prosecution did not specifically identify or indicate the tweets or public expressions in which the "advocacy of hatred" would have allegedly materialized. Copies or screenshots of the alleged incriminating messages were not even recorded in the files.

The “Law Against Hatred” has been challenge by several local and international organizations, since it was proposed and passed by the National Constitutional Assembly (ANC), established in 2017 in an also challenged elections. Even though the ANC does not have any legal attribution to draft and adopt laws, it has passed several acts in form of laws that the judiciary has been applying since then.

Nicmer Evans’ detention is another example of the Maduro government’s policy of repression. Intimidation, harassment, torture, arbitrarily detentions and enforced disappearances are common practices of the DGCIM and the Maduro government. In recent years, dozens of opposition politicians have been forced to flee the country and request asylum in the face of threats they have received from the Maduro government; others have been arbitrarily arrested for being related to an opposition leader or activist. Ordinary Venezuelans who dare criticize their government or join protests also face the threat of detention, and some have suffered forced disappearances or have been killed by security forces. In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, medical personnel, journalists and others have faced detention after calling attention to new COVID-19 cases or to the scarcity of medical supplies and basic goods. 

In last year’s report, Hunger for Justice: Crimes against Humanity in Venezuela, Amnesty International concluded that the selective extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and deaths and injuries caused by the excessive use of force by Nicolás Maduro’s government as part of a systematic and widespread policy of repression since at least 2017 may constitute crimes against humanity.

Since 2014 Venezuelans have fled in unprecedented numbers in search of safety and a dignified future abroad. By March 2020, over 5.2 million had fled the country. Due the COVID-19 crisis, many Venezuelans who previously left have been forced back to the country due to collapsing economies and a lack of dedicated support for refugees impacted by the pandemic and its secondary effects. They are also at risk of government retribution.
 

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INCOMMUNICADO DETAINEE NOW INDICTED

Incommunicado detainee now indicted

Demonstration
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Please note that Twitter is a massive social media platform in Venezuela, and other communication means are practically inexistent, particularly mail. We advise the use of Twitter to contact authorities in the country. We have addressed this letter to the Venezuelan embassy. 

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicolás Maduro’s government has used this crisis to further expand and abuse its power. The government has escalated its use of arbitrary detentions of opposition members, real or perceived, as well as other critics. Furthermore, there is evidence of torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial executions committed by the Maduro government. 

On 2 April 2020, approximately 15 DGCIM officials raided the home of Maury Carrero. In the process, they took many of the family’s valuables and electronics. The officials advised Maury Carrero’s parents that they were taking her temporarily and would bring her back home, as the search warrant did not include her name on it. Maury Carrero did not return home that night. Since her detention, she was only been permitted an extremely short phone call approximately once a week the first month of detention, during which officials were present the entire time and she was unable to speak freely nor safely about the conditions of her detention. Since she was transferred to National Institute for Women's Guidance (INOF by its acronym in Spanish) facilities on 14 May, officials have denied her access to her family and lawyers under the excuse of the state of alarm that has been in place as response to the COVID-19 pandemic since 13 March 2020. 

On 19 May, she was indicted by the prosecution with ‘concealment of firearms’ and ‘association to commit crimes’, both under the Venezuelan Organic Law Against Organised Crime and Financing of terrorism. The indictment was brought before the Second Special Judge with jurisdiction in cases related to crimes associated with ‘terrorism’. She had initially been charged with terrorism, association to commit crime, concealment of firearms and explosives, and concealment of a minor quantity of drugs, but not formally indicted until 19 May. 

Maury Carrero’s arrest is another example of the Maduro government’s policy of repression. Intimidation, harassment, torture, arbitrarily detentions and enforced disappearances are common practices of the DGCIM and the Maduro government. In recent years, dozens of opposition politicians have been forced to flee the country and request asylum in the face of threats they have received from the Maduro government; others have been arbitrarily arrested for being related to an opposition leader or activist. Ordinary Venezuelans who dare criticize their government or join protests also face the threat of detention, and some have suffered forced disappearances or have been killed by security forces. In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, medical personnel, journalists and others have faced detention after calling attention to new COVID-19 cases or to the scarcity of medical supplies and basic goods. 

In last year’s report, Hunger for Justice: Crimes against Humanity in Venezuela, Amnesty International concluded that the selective extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and deaths and injuries caused by the excessive use of force by Nicolás Maduro’s government as part of a systematic and widespread policy of repression since at least 2017 may constitute crimes against humanity.

Since 2014, Venezuelans have fled in unprecedented numbers in search of safety and a dignified future abroad. By March 2020, over 5 million had fled the country. Due the COVID-19 crisis, many Venezuelans who previously left have been forced back to the country due to collapsing economies and a lack of dedicated support for refugees impacted by the pandemic and its secondary effects. They are also at risk of government retribution.
 

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MONITORING OF THREATS TO LAWMAKERS CONTINUES

Monitoring of threats to lawmakers continues

Protesters in Venezuela
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Urgent Action outcome: Monitoring of threats to lawmakers continues

Venezuelan National Assembly opposition members, as well as their families and staff continue being subjected to threats.

3rd update on UA 01/20
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