On 6 October 2021, a judge and a prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Criminal Judicial Circuit of the state of Merida in Venezuela threatened to order the arrest of human rights lawyers Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas, accusing them of defamation. The threat was made in the middle of a trial in which Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas were acting as legal representatives on the defence team.
Engels Puertas is a lawyer and human rights defender. For more than six years he has been defending people who have been incriminated in unjust criminal proceedings. Engels is also a member of the legal team in the organisation 100% Estrogen, where he works on cases with a gender perspective. He also directs the organisation Iniciativa Para Una Justicia Igualitaria, where he works alongside lawyer and human rights defender Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas, who has been litigating in defence of human rights, specifically in favour of the right to a legitimate defence of victims and the right to due process of their defendants.
Human rights lawyers Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas are part of the defence team of the case of 2 individuals who were arbitrarily detained and allegedly tortured in prison. The case has been ongoing for over 5 years. On 6 October 2021, when the case was being heard before the Criminal Judicial Circuit of the state of Merida, Engels Puertas and Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas were threatened by the prosecutor one day after they recused and denounced the judge presiding over the case in the Venezuelan General Inspectorate of Courts for alleged violations of due process. The judge in question declared the accusations by the human rights defenders inadmissible and threatened to file a complaint against them in order to remove them from the case and inhibit their work as defence lawyers. The judge, while deciding to continue the trial and ignoring the complaint against him, has appointed other public lawyers to represent the defendants, ignoring their appeal to continue with their lawyers.
Orlando Moreno, dirigente político de Vente Venezuela y activista de los derechos humanos, fue detenido en horas del mediodía de este domingo 25 de abril, por funcionarios de un órgano de seguridad del Estado.
Moreno se encontraba en las cercanías del área del paseo malecón Manamo de Tucupita, correspondiente al puerto del destacamento de Vigilancia Fluvial 911, cuyo acceso es restringido, cuando fue conminado a abordar una unidad del Cicpc, destinada a traslados y patrullaje.
Según testigos, el dirigente habría acudido en defensa de una persona a la que no le permitían fotos del procedimiento adelantado para recibir los cuerpos sin vida de tres personas, que viajaban en el bote siniestrado la madrugada del pasado jueves 22A.
Ante el presunto intento de retenerle el teléfono empleado como cámara, Moreno habría esgrimido sus credenciales de abogado e integrante del Foro Penal de Venezuela, manifestando que no podían impedir que el ciudadano cubriera gráficamente la actividad.
Posteriormente, en medio del fragor de la discusión, se le solicitó abordar la unidad, lo que hizo.
No se conoce el asunto de fondo, tampoco la determinación que hayan podido tomar las autoridades.
El caso ha reverberado en el ámbito nacional donde connotados activistas políticos y miembros de ONG’s advierten sobre su detención, exigiendo la liberación inmediata.
Lawyers for Lawyers is deeply concerned about the safety of Raquel Sánchez, a Venezuelan lawyer, woman human rights defender and coordinator of the Venezuelan NGO Foro Penal, Táchira, a non-governmental organization that provides legal assistance to arbitrarily detained persons in Venezuela. Raquel is also a member of the Grupo de Trabajo Defensoras del Táchira, a group of women defenders who, since 2018, have documented cases of human rights violations in Táchira and provided support for victims. The Latin America focus group of Lawyers for Lawyers spoke with Raquel Sánchez during a video call in which she elaborated on the danger she encounters while performing her job as a human rights lawyer in Venezuela./0
During her career as a human rights lawyer, Raquel Sánchez has faced several attacks by unidentified individuals and public officials, who have pressured her to quit her work as a human right lawyer. For example, in June 2016, Raquel and a colleague, were attacked by three masked individuals while they were driving down a road in the center of San Cristóbal, Táchira State. The individuals struck the front windshield and the front door glass, inflicting wounds to Sánchez’s head. Sánchez had to go to the hospital, but the doctor did not want to give her a report that confirmed the cause of her injuries so that she would not have any material to legally process the case. Furthermore, Sánchez was forced to move several times due to threats she received due to her work as a human rights lawyer. She also received threats at her beauty salon – which she was exploiting besides her work as a human rights lawyer – reason of which she was forced to close down the beauty salon.
Sánchez encounters many difficulties when performing her work as a human rights lawyer because persons in positions of authority in Venezuela are deliberately limiting space for her work. The Venezuelan court has, amongst others, denied Sánchez to access the hearing of her clients and refused to receive evidence unless Sánchez’s clients would change lawyer. It is clear that the Venezuelan court and police do not accept lawyers from NGO Foro Penal. In this regard, Sánchez has experienced that in case a political prisoner asks for a lawyer of Foro Penal, the police tries to prevent this by saying that the prisoner will receive a lighter punishment if the case will not be handled by a lawyer of Foro Penal.
Sánchez has filed multiple complaints before the Public Ministry about fears for her safety. Unfortunately, she continues to be the target of attacks and surveillance, which have intensified during the famous human rights case she is currently in charge of in which she represents the victims of a recent incident of police violence.
Commercial lawyers can do their bit as ‘enthusiastic amateurs’ to help protect colleagues at risk and the rule of law in general around the world, the president of the Law Society told the global legal profession today.
‘We need to ensure we are capturing the imagination and influence of the enthusiastic amateur,’ Davis told a packed closing session of the International Bar Association’s annual conference discussing ways to address the persecution of lawyers and judges.
By uniting in solidarity the profession can show that human rights lawyers are not just some isolated group to be picked off by hostile authorities, Davis said.
‘You can be a human rights lawyer in any organisation – we are all human rights lawyers,’ the Clifford Chance partner said.
The conference heard accounts of lawyers being threatened, imprisoned and murdered in countries as diverse as Turkey, Thailand and Venezuela. In the Philippines alone, 44 lawyers have been killed over the past three years, Erik Hammerstein, a commercial litigator who sites on the board of Netherlands group Lawyers for Lawyers said.
Noting this year’s furore over the granting of legal aid to a solicitor acting for a fugitive from justice, Davis said that the battle to protect the independence of the legal profession also had to be fought at home.
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A group of AN deputies gathered outside the Palace of Justice in Caracas, awaiting the audience of Roberto Marrero, head of the office of the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó.
Next to them are Marrero’s lawyers and family members.
Marrero was arrested in the early hours of Thursday, during a raid on his home. Then he was accused by the National Government of being “the organizer” of a “terrorist” plan against Nicolás Maduro.
On Monday, Marrero’s lawyer, Joel Garcia, assured that Marrero’s transfer has not yet taken place, “After the imputation of three crimes they now speak of other crimes,” he said.
García also warned that the accusations made by Jorge Rodriguez on Saturday against Marrero and the captures of WhatsApp conversations shown do not appear in the files to which they had access. “I want to warn about Jorge Rodriguez’s words, about some captures, that there is nothing on the minutes of the files we had on Friday.
Reinaldo Marrero, Roberto Marrero’s brother, made an appeal from the place to the International Community to ask them to eliminate the charges that have been announced against them by members of the national government. “We are firm in our demand to release Roberto, who has nothing to do with the charges against him,” he said.
The political crisis escalated significantly on Thursday when the chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, a lawyer and confidant of Mr. Guaidó, was taken from his apartment in southern Caracas around dawn to an unknown destination by armed intelligence officers, said Sergio Vergara, an opposition lawmaker who is a friend and neighbor of Mr. Marrero’s.
Geraldine started her peaceful campaigning when she was just 14 as a youth leader in Caracas.
Since then her activism has only grown – she started an Amnesty youth network and supported individuals who were at risk of imprisonment and persecution, and later joined the NGO Community Ambassadors Foundation running outreach programs with impoverished young people in Venezuela.
Now, Geraldine finds herself in need of the same help she has given many others. This year the Venezuelan authorities arrested her, and she spent four months in prison with limited access to sunlight, food and water.
Geraldine was released conditionally which means she cannot leave the country, and she risks being sent back to prison at any moment.
Sign this petition and demand the Venezuelan authorities drop the case against Geraldine.
With enough global pressure, we could get the Venezuelan authorities to drop the charges – add your voice now.
The disputed jailhouse death of an opposition councilman arrested on allegations of plotting to kill President Nicolas Maduro has triggered alarm among many Venezuelans and swift condemnation from several foreign dignitaries.
Venezuela’s government said on Monday that Fernando Alban took his own life by leaping from the 10th floor of the state intelligence agency’s headquarters. But opposition leaders denied the official version and a few dozen of Alban’s supporters gathered outside the building yelling “Maduro killer!” contending that he had been murdered.
“There’s no doubt this was an assassination,” opposition leader Julio Borges said in a video from exile in neighboring Colombia, without providing evidence of his claim.
Alban, 56, was taken into custody Friday at Caracas’ international airport upon arriving from New York, according to his lawyer.
The world, of course, already knows, as do the Venezuelan people, that the country long ago ceased to be a democracy. Maduro, no matter what he claims happened in Sunday’s election, is a dictator.
At a time when a global wave of authoritarianism is rising, a closer look at the Venezuelan tragedy reveals what was at the center of the power-grab: the dismantlement of the rule of law. It was this crucial tactic that turned one of Latin America’s most enduring democracies into a basket case of social and economic collapse.
Venezuela offers a case study in how by politicizing the law, the regime — incompetent in every other respect — managed to seize control of the country without the need to impose military rule.
Although the constitution guaranteed judicial independence, the Supreme Court, through its Judicial Commission, has the power to remove at will any of the “provisional” judges — more than half of the judges in Venezuela. According to the International Commission of Jurists, “the separation of powers is non-existent,” in Venezuela. The judiciary has become an instrument of the President and his party.