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Is Venezuela’s CNE violating international treaties?

By Aleksander Boyd

London 03 August 2004 – The recently approved set of norms to regulate the participation of the Venezuelan expat community in the recall referendum are worth analysing in minute detail by international jurists. According to the Law of Suffrage and Political Participation the diplomatic missions shall serve as voting centres in electoral events. Furthermore article 61 of said Law establishes that the right to vote shall not be denied to citizens registered in the electoral roll of a given area, provided they can produce their ID documents.

Should a person need to update his/her data in the electoral roll -first time registration or change of domicile- before Venezuela’s diplomatic missions, his/her data in the electoral roll shall contain the following information according to article 95 of the aforementioned Law:

1) Full name, ID number, gender, DOB, nationality, occupation and the physical impediments that may affect the act of voting;

2) Indication whether the person is literate;

3) Residence providing exact details of location with indication of electoral zone, parish, council and county;

4) Information of the voting centre and polling booth correspondent to the elector;

5) Whether the elector can be selected to participate actively in activities intrinsic to the voting process, as established by Title VII of this Law;

6) Political interdiction and its motives, if such were to be the case.

Please note that no mention is made to the legal status of the elector in another country. However Foreign Secretary Jesus Perez announced last week, after meeting with CNE’s Director Francisco Carrasquero, that Venezuelans living abroad will need to provide proof of legal residence status in order to cast their votes, i.e. one must present to Venezuelan authorities, namely diplomats, in Venezuelan territory, namely embassies or consulates, residence permits or visas issued by the corresponding immigration entity of the country of residence. Thus we have seen how this new requisite has been forced into the norms that regulate the act of voting abroad in clear violation to our constitution and related legislation.

I know that this site is read by very many people from academia, international bodies, governmental offices, think tanks and so on. I should be most grateful if experts in the subjects of international and human rights law contact me privately (via the contact interface on the header) to shed light upon this new manoeuvre of the regime which seeks to curtail our rights once again. As far as my understanding goes it seems rather clear that Venezuelan authorities, diplomats or otherwise, will transgress the powers bestowed upon them by other nations should they maintain such an absurd request.

Imagine the uproar should an Englishman in Caracas be prohibited from voting in his embassy due to the lack of Venezuelan credentials… What an extraordinary experiment of participative democracy!!

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