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Venezuela: The Day Democracy Died...

by Alexandra Beech,

25.11.04 | As Lybian President Muammar Kadhafi congratulated Hugo Chavez for receiving the al Gathafi Human Rights Prize this year, the Venezuelan government violated human rights as outlined by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The following are the most severe violations.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

For the past two days, the parents of suspected car bomber Antontio Lopez have been detained by the authorities as material witnesses. Former Senator Haydee Castillo, 70, and her husband Antonio López Acosta, 69, slept on the floor at a prison last night. Neither have been accused of a crime.

Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

As mentioned above, Haydee Castillo, 70, and her husband Antonio López Acosta, 69 are detained. The whereabouts of Silvino Bustillos, followed by three intelligence officers on October 31st, are still unknown. Sources leaked that he may have been tortured and killed.

Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

The preliminary audience in the case of former Metropolitan Mayorship security chief Ivan Simonovis, arrested and accused of participating in Chavez’ April 11th ouster, is to be tried by Mikel Moreno, the same defense lawyer who defended City Councilman Richard Penalver, videotaped shooting at civilians from a bridge on April 11th. Moreno has refused to recuse as judge himself from the case, despite the evident conflict of interest.

Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.”

The National Assembly passed The Radio and Television Social Responsibility Law on Wednesday. The law “prohibits the broadcasting of scenes of sex and violence during most of the day and evening, “ according to Reuters, and “bans broadcasting events or statements that ‘incite disruption of public order’ or are ‘contrary to national security’. Broadcasters who break these rules will face heavy fines and suspensions and could have their licenses revoked.” International reaction was almost immediate. “Criticism of the bill has come from the Organization of American States, Human Rights Watch and others, who say the bill's often ambiguous language leaves room for wide interpretations,” reports the Associated Press. Human Rights Watch director Jose Vivanco said the “legislation severely threatens press freedom in Venezuela.” In addition, Human Rights Watch said the law is “a recipe for self-censorship by the press and arbitrary government action.” Chavez will likely sign the 36 article bill into law in December.

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