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Venezuelan journalist says police beat and humiliate her, forced her to take off her clothes

Agents of the Venezuelan national police agency in charge of criminal investigations (known by its Spanish acronym CICPC) detained and physically and verbally abused two journalists as they tried to cover the transfer of prisoners from high security on June 19, according to local news agencies and press watchdogs.

Journalist Beatriz Lara and photographer Alfredo Paradas, both from newspaper El Aragueño, were accused by officials of wanting to facilitate the escape of the prisoners. For this, they were not only detained, but also beaten, humiliated and abused. Lara was forced to take off her clothes in order to check that she was not carrying weapons, the Press and Society Institute (IPYS by its Spanish acronym) reported.

“They took me by the hair and banged my forehead against the wall, I was forced to squat in order to check my private parts and confirm that I didn’t have a weapon, they handcuffed me to my colleague and to a pole after taking the handcuffs off another person. We could only pray,” Lara said in conversation with IPYS.

Journalist José Luis Camejo, of Globovisión, witnessed the arrest of the journalists and when he questioned the irregularity of what happened, was threatened with arrest. Camejo was held in his vehicle, according to IPYS and Espacio Público.

After hours of detention, the journalists were released. Officials apologized for what happened and claimed “to be very tense and the sergeant was stressed,” according to IPYS.

In addition to being accused of conspiring to free the inmates, the journalists were accused of obstructing justice and resisting arrest. Those charges were dropped after their release, El Carabobeño reported.

The Aragua branch of the National Association of Journalists (Colegio Nacional de Periodistas, or CNP) demanded “the immediate activation of the Senior Prosecutor of the state of Aragua, the Ombudsman, and all petitions of protection for women so that an investigation concerning the facts, which would reveal the moral decay of some members of the state security forces, could begin.”

The CNP asked for the officials to be punished with the full weight of the law, since the behavior “violated the fundamental rights of human beings.” “We cannot allow such heinous acts to become the daily reality for journalists who go out to fulfill their duty to inform,” the statement said.

Non-governmental organization Espacio Público also condemned the facts as “clear violations of human rights” and asked for “an investigation to determine who was responsible for the aggressions against the journalists, and that those involved be punished.”

The Secretary of Popular Power for Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality “activated the necessary mechanisms” to provide care to the journalists of the newspaper, according to El Aragueño. The newspaper also reported that the case was sent to the attorney of the state and that the journalist was receiving legal and psychological counseling.

IPYS Venezuela and the Aragua branch of CNP charged that the event constituted the second aggression against a reporter in the same region so far this year.


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