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Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Venezuelans lose ability to take freedom of expression cases before OAS’ Inter-American Court



After Venezuela's withdrawal from the American Convention on Human Rights on Sep. 10, Venezuelans are now unable to take cases pertaining to freedom of expression violations, among others, to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, said Ariel E. Dulitzky, former assistant executive secretary at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and a leading expert in the inter-American human rights system, in a recent interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Dulitzky considered the Venezuelan government's decision to pull from the American Convention "politically problematic," saying it goes against the Organization of American States' goal to have all its members ratify the inter-American treaties on human rights. "Venezuela has broken the Latin American consensus," he said. 

In a recent press release, the OAS expressed its concern over the situation. However, since Venezuela continues to be a member of the organization, the IACHR will continue processing requests, cases and cautionary measures coming from the country.

The OAS added that Venezuela would still have to meet its obligations under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, which all the state members of the OAS are subscribed to.

Marianela Balbi, director of the Press and Society Institute (IPYS) in Venezuela, said that the country's withdrawal from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights "was a serious step backward in the protection of human rights, but we hope it's something provisional and that Venezuela goes back to being part of the Convention."

Balbi said they will continue to follow closely one of the most emblematic press-related cases that managed to enter the Court last February: the closure and seizure of assets of broadcaster Radio Caracas Televisión, which was shut down by the government in 2007. According to the IACHR, the Venezuelan state violated "the right to freedom of expression, the right to equality and non-discrimination, and the administrative due process."

On Sep. 10, 2012, then-President Hugo Chávez announced Venezuela would withdraw from the American Convention on Human Rights. Chávez accused the convention of being an "arm of the empire," referring to the U.S., the BBC reported.



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