WASHINGTON – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro on Saturday for taking measures to obstruct freedom of expression and demonstration within the context of the process to select a constitutional assembly to rewrite the country’s charter.
The IACHR said that Caracas had adopted “new measures” aimed at obstructing the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and prohibiting the exercise of the right to demonstrate and assemble peacefully.
The IACHR information office issued an urgent call to the Venezuela state to halt such measures and ensure its behavior conforms to international human rights standards.
A process of this kind, which seeks to implement a new constitution and the cancellation of which has been requested by millions of Venezuelans and opposition parties cannot proceed under restrictions of freedom of expression and the right to peacefully assemble, which arbitrarily impede the broad diffusion of all political opinions, the IACHR said.
Convened without a prior referendum by Maduro, the constitutional assembly will be tasked with altering the Constitution and is scheduled to be voted on by Venezuelans on Sunday, but it is considered to be a “fraud” by the opposition, which has been protesting for weeks against a process that, in its judgment, will open the doors to “consolidating a dictatorship” in the South American country.
The opposition MUD alliance has called for people to continue taking to the streets to demonstrate their rejection of the process that has also been criticized by the international community.
One of the most critical voices among those opposing the constitutional assembly has been Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro, along with a block of 13 OAS member nations.
The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the OAS.
Since early April, Venezuela has been mired in a wave of anti-government protests, some of which have turned violent and resulted in 109 deaths and more than 1,000 arrests.