August 2, 2017
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro continued to face criticism – both domestic and international – as he jailed two leading critics of the government on Tuesday. In a sign of worsening tensions, two judges have also fled the country.
The arrests were widely seen as an attempt to squash dissent to ensure Maduro’s new constituent assembly can become functional as soon as possible. The new super body voted in on Sunday amid deadly protests will have absolute powers to strengthen the hand of the leftist government and to rewrite the Constitution.
Venezuela’s opposition leader Henrique Capriles hit out at Maduro for the jailing of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and veteran politician Antonio Ledezma – a fresh blow to the opposition after Sunday’s election.
In a statement announcing the jailing of Lopez and Ledezma, the pro-government Supreme Court said they were planning to flee the country and had violated terms of their house arrest by making political statements and speaking to media.
But Capriles denounced the government’s version of events, saying that Venezuelans were not so gullible to believe it to be true.
In a statement, UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al Hussein called for the release of two prominent opposition leaders, who were arrested in raids at their homes. Venezuela must release peaceful protesters and allow an independent investigation into the deaths of at least 10 people in protests at the weekend, Hussein said.