Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
1. In Venezuela the violation of human rights in the country's prisons is an issue of much concern. Moreover, cases such as El Amparo and the so-called Caracazo regarding which the Inter American Human Rights Court (CIDH), with headquarters in Costa Rica , has issued final sentences and even ordered compensations are widely remembered. Ever since the year 2000, several national and international organizations have been denouncing these human rights violations and their increase in recent years.
2. COFAVIC has presented specific accusations and has done a follow up of the parapolice groups' activities. In its annual reports PROVEA has also reported multiple human rights violations, particularly violations to the right to life.
3. Ever since the year 2002 the CIDH has dictated provisional protective measures for journalists (Marta Colomina and Liliana Velásquez, reporters for RCTV) media ( El Nacional and Así Es la Noticia and Globovisión ), human rights militants ( Liliana Ortega and COFAVIC, Carlos Nieto and José Luis Uzcátegui) and regular citizens (Eloisa Barrios and members of her family) who have all been threatened by parapolice groups or extermination groups comprised of former or active police officers.
4. A clear indication of the deteriorated situation of human rights in Venezuela is provided by the case of soldiers who are subjected to disciplinary regulations that include even detention in punishment cells, in violation of the most basic human rights. Some of these soldiers have lost their lives in fires which happened to ignite their cells yet to date no one has been indicted for any such incident. The cases of soldiers burned to death while detained in such ignominious punishment cells, are the following:
- Ángel Ciro Pedreáñez f died on May 4, 2004. Another soldier, Orlando Bustamante, died after 35 days in intensive care for the severe burns he suffered while detained in a punishment cell in Fort Mara.
- Soldier José Fébres-Narváez, of the Army's Special Forces Light Brigade, stationed in Monagas State, deceased on January 30, 2001, as a consequence of having been drenched in thinner and ignited, together with three other soldiers, while in detention in a disciplinary cell, by Army Lieutenant Alessandro Sicat-Torres;
- Corporal Rommer José Luján-Martínez (aged 20) and Raúl Royett-Gutiérrez, (aged 19), members of the Reserve Battalion stationed at the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Barracks in Cumaná.
5. The National Military Detention Center of Ramo Verde houses a number of members of the Armed Forces, detained and indicted for the crime of military rebellion without having been formally charged and without the benefit of a grounds of claim trial to which they have a right by law in consideration of their senior officers status. Even though many of those senior officers have retired from the Armed Forces, their cases have not been transferred to civilian courts of justice. Among these are the following: General (Ret.) Ovidio Poggioli, General (Ret.) Francisco Usón, Col. Jesús Farías-Rodríguez, Col. Jesús Castro-Yeyes, Col. Carlos Guerra, Lt. Col. Humberto Quintero, Lt. Col. Francisco Martínez, Capt. Javier Nieto, Capt. Rafael Faría Villasmil, Capt. Javier Quintero, Capt. Otto Guevaguer, Lt. Darwin Valera, Merchant Marine Capt. Luís Salazar, General Felipe Rodríguez, alias El Cuervo.
6. Of all the above-mentioned officers, the only one who has been sentenced is Army Gen. (Ret.) Francisco Usón, condemned by a Military Court of Justice to five years and six months imprisonment for expressing an opinion about what would be the probable impact of a flamethrower weapon fired at the interior of a detention cell. In the opinion of Alberto Arteaga-Sánchez, a noted specialist in criminal law, Gen. Usón should not have been tried by a military court since at the time the events took place he was already a retired officer.
7. In May 2004, the Government revealed an alleged attempt to attack Miraflores Palace by a paramilitary group, composed in its majority of Colombian citizens. The members of such group were arrested in a farm located at the outskirts of Caracas . Those involved in the case, known as that of the 'Paramilitaries', have yet to be tried after more than a year in detention. Six Venezuelan officers are also being tried in relation to this case, among them the: Gen. (Ret.) Ovidio Poggioli - arrested without charges and brought to trial before a military court, notwithstanding his civilian condition - Colonels Jesús Farías- Rodríguez, Jesús Castro-Yelles, and Captains Javier Quintero-González, Rafael Farías-Villasmil, and Javier Nieto, who have finally been charged and for whom, in some cases, a penalty of over twenty-years imprisonment has been requested.
8. On April 21, 2005 , Colonel Darío Faría-Rodríguez, brother of Jesús Faría-Rodríguez, indicted in the Paramilitaries Case, was arrested in the neighborhood of Tiuna Fort. Colonel Darío Farías was charged with possession of a FAL rifle, hidden in his car's fender. Soon after his arrest, members of his family denounced he was being subjected to torture. Neither Darío Farías' lawyers nor his family were able to establish contact with him for several days and he remained out of bounds until a commission from the Office of the Peoples' Advocate was finally able to visit him of May 4, 2005.