Tag Archives: Venezuela

Venezuela: Rights lawyer Engels Wladimir Puertas victim of arbitrary detention, torture, serious threats and criminalisation of his work


Engels Wladimir Puertas Ochoa is a lawyer and human rights defender. He is member of the legal team of the organisation “100% Estrógeno”, where he works defending cases related to gender, gender equality and gender identity. He also leads the organisation “Iniciativa por una Justicia Igualitaria” (Initiative for Equal Justice), together with other lawyers of the organisation. For more than eight years, he has been representing students, human rights activists and victims of arbitrary detention and frame-ups (the falsification and production of incriminating evidence in court against a particular individual).

The Observatory has been informed of several risks and attacks suffered by the lawyer Engels Wladimir Puertas Ochoa from March 2011 until today, with an even higher frequency during the year 2021.

In the period between 2011 and 2016, the lawyer had already been victim of persecution, attacks, threats, harassment and has suffered 6 arbitrary detentions during which he was subjected to torture, isolation, psychological pressure and illegal deprivation of his liberty. According to his own statements, regional and national security bodies (the Intelligence Division of the Mérida State Police and the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) were responsible for these arbitrary detentions, which took place in the context of peaceful protests for the rights of imprisoned students.

Since 6 October 2021, he has been threatened with arrest by order of the fourth judge of the criminal judicial circuit of the judicial district of the state of Mérida, following the instructions of the same institution president, lawyer Carla Gardenia Araque. According to the lawyer Gardenia, these threats are due to the multiple complaints he has filed with the competent authorities regarding acts of corruption in the judicial system of this city.

On the same day, during a hearing in the trial in which he is the defence lawyer, the Fourth Public Prosecutor of the Judicial District of the State of Mérida threatened and physically assaulted Engels Puertas and part of his team, ordering his detention in the facilities of the Judicial Criminal Circuit of the State of Mérida.

Engels Puertas is currently out of Venezuela because he has received serious threats of arrest for the legitimate practice of his profession and for denouncing the lack of transparency in the Venezuelan judicial system.







USA: L.A. lawyer among Americans jailed in Venezuela


Three Americans were quietly jailed in Venezuela earlier this year for allegedly trying to enter the country illegally and now face long prison sentences in the politically turbulent nation.

Two of the men — a lawyer from California and a computer programmer from Texas — were arrested in late March, just days after President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government freed two other Americans.

Venezuelan security forces arrested lawyer Eyvin Hernandez, 44, and computer programmer Jerrel Kenemore, 52, in separate incidents in the western state of Tachira, according to a person familiar with investigations into the arrests. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the cases publicly.

Hernandez is from Los Angeles; Kenemore is from the Dallas area, but had lived in Colombia since 2019.

A third American was arrested in January, also for allegedly entering the country illegally along its lengthy border with Colombia. AP is withholding his name at the request of his family, which fears retaliation.


Hernandez, who was arrested March 31, was supposed to appear in court on Monday but the hearing was postponed.

Hernandez migrated to Los Angeles as a toddler with his parents, who were fleeing civil war in El Salvador. After graduating from the University of California Los Angeles law school, he turned down lucrative jobs to instead work as a public defender representing indigent and sometimes homeless defendants, a sign of his charitable spirit, friends and relatives said.

Like Maduro, Hernandez loves salsa music and has a history of labor activism. An avid traveler, Hernandez was taking a short break from work when he traveled to Colombia, where he’s been several times before, his brother said. Right before he was due home, he accompanied a Venezuelan friend to the border. His family said it was never his intention to go to Venezuela, nor would he knowingly break the law.







Venezuela: Lawyers unable to practice their profession freely and independently


In a briefing paper released today, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) calls attention to the numerous obstacles and restrictions that Venezuelan lawyers face in exercising their profession.

Lawyers acting independently are frequently subjected to harassment, intimidation, and even criminal sanction.  Lawyers acting in high-profile actions, particularly politically charged cases, or those involving human rights violations are at particular risk.

As the paper demonstrates, the institutional environment fails to adequately provide for independence within the justice system or the protection of human rights.

“Venezuela has become a hostile environment for functioning of an independent and accountable legal profession, which is a precondition for a society based on the rule of law and where of human rights are protected”, said Ian Seiderman, ICJ Legal and Policy Director.

The briefing paper also underscores that in a context of increasing authoritarianism, the situation of the legal profession has deteriorated over the last decade. Certain public authorities, including prosecutors, judges, police officials and intelligent agents, have acted to suppress or failed to implement the guarantees necessary to facilitate a robust legal profession that can play its role in the fair administration of justice. On other occasions, lawyers are subjected to variation forms of pressure, harassment, intimidation, or persecution by private parties who act with the support, tolerance or acquiescence of State authorities.

“The independent and free exercise of the legal profession is essential for the protection of human rights, including the rights to a fair trial, due process and effective remedies. By failing to protect the legal profession, the authorities are also breaching their international legal obligations to ensure the rights of all”, stressed Seiderman.

Bar associations have similarly been the target of unwarranted interferences, and accordingly have been unable to play their essential role in defending the independence of the legal profession of their members.



Torture and criminalisation of protest in Cuba


The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) will examine the situation in Cuba in relation to the measures adopted to prevent, investigate, punish and fully compensate victims of torture during its 73rd session, on 20, 21 and 22 April, 2022.

This report was prepared by a coalition of independent civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Cuba, with the support of international human rights organisations. The objective of this report is to put the spotlight on the situation of human rights on the island, based on the obligations assumed by the Cuban State by ratifying the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Treatment or Punishment.

The review by the CAT is one of the few carried out by UN treaty bodies on the island, since Cuba has ratified neither the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights nor the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

This report highlights the lack of legal safeguards for detainees and violations of due process; the lack of independence of lawyers and justice operators; the lack of measures to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women; the constant harassment, persecution and criminalisation of human rights defenders and journalists; the closure of democratic spaces for civil society organisations; the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment suffered by people deprived of liberty in detention centres; the arbitrary arrests, torture and cruel treatment of journalists and protesters in the context of the defence of human rights and social protest in the country.




https://www.omct.org/es/recursos/reportes/tortura-y-criminalizaci%C3%B3n-de-la-protesta-en-cuba (ESPANOL)

IBAHRI keeps spotlight on key issues raised at 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council


With a constantly evolving and fast-paced news agenda, human rights issues do not always make the front page. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) is committed to highlighting human rights abuses across the world and holding those accountable to justice. At the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC48), the IBAHRI joined other non-governmental organisations in statements condemning international human rights violations, with a particular focus on lawyers under attack, facing arbitrary detention or suppression of their professional activities.

Afghanistan: Since the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021, gross and systematic human rights violations continue to occur in Afghanistan, including attacks against female lawyers and judges. In partnership with a number of other NGOs, the IBAHRI released a joint open appeal to UN Member States to urge the adoption of a resolution creating a Fact-Finding Mission, or other independent investigative mechanism, for Afghanistan. The IBAHRI welcomes the new agreement of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to appoint a special rapporteur on Afghanistan to probe human rights violations by parties to the conflict, including the Taliban, as an important first step towards achieving oversight, accountability, justice and reparation for the ongoing crisis.


Belarus: The legal profession in Belarus is under threat, with attacks against lawyers on the rise. Most recently, Maxim Znak, lawyer for a former candidate for the Belarusian Presidency, was sentenced to a ten-year prison term following a closed-door trial. During the UN Interactive Dialogue the IBAHRI delivered an oral statement on behalf of several NGOs on the human rights situation in Belarus. The IBAHRI condemned the deterioration of the situation on the ground and stressed that the HRC must take action to prevent a further decline. The IBAHRI would welcome full support for the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus through adequate funding, as well as an examination of the situation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.



Venezuela: Hostigamiento contra la abogada de derechos humanos Theresly Malavé Wadskier




El Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos, programa conjunto de la Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT) y la FIDH, solicita su intervención urgente ante la siguiente situación en Venezuela.

Descripción de la situación:

El Observatorio ha recibido con profunda preocupación información del Comité de Familiares de las Víctimas de los Sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC) sobre el hostigamiento y la intimidación contra la Sra. Theresly Malavé Wadskier, abogada de derechos humanos y directora y miembro fundadora de Justicia y Proceso Venezuela (JUYPROVEN). Junto con el equipo de JUYPROVEN, la Sra. Malave Wadskier ha documentado, defendido y denunciando varios casos de graves violaciones de derechos humanos contra presos políticos y de conciencia, incluyendo violaciones al debido proceso, al acceso a la justicia y casos de tortura y malos tratos.

Desde el mes de septiembre de 2021, la abogada Theresly Malavé ha sido víctima de hostigamiento e intimidación por parte de funcionarios delTribunal Especial Primero de la Primera Instancia en Funciones de Juicio con Competencia en Casos Vinculados con Delitos Asociados al Terrorismo con Competencia Nacional, en donde la abogada Malavé representa varios casos de personas detenidas arbitrariamente y presuntamente torturadas. También, la abogada Malavé ha reportado hostigamientos y persecución por parte de funcionarios de la Dirección de Contrainteligencia Militar (DGCIM), quienes, de manera continuada, han estacionado patrullas frente a su casa y han seguido a la defensora en sus paseos con su hijo. En septiembre de 2021, funcionarios del DGCIM irrumpieron en su edificio como forma de intimidación, ya que no se produjo ninguna detención ni allanamiento. Tal y como recogió el Observatorio en su informe “Enemigos internos”, publicado en marzo de 2020, el acoso y penetración en la cotidianidad y privacidad de las personas defensoras es una estrategia utilizada de manera sistemática por el Estado de Venezuela para vejar psicológicamente a quienes defienden los derechos humanos e inhibirles de seguir ejerciendo su trabajo.

El hostigamiento contra Theresly Malavé inició después de que asumiera la defensa de personas víctimas de graves torturas y tratos crueles humanos y degradantes en las instalaciones del DGCIM. Se trataría, por lo tanto, de una advertencia sobre las posibles represalias en su contra por seguir defendiendo a estas víctimas. Asimismo, en varias audiencias ante el Tribunal Especial Primero de Primera Instancia en Funciones de Juicio con Competencia en Casos Vinculados con Delitos Asociados al Terrorismo con Jurisdicción Nacional, en las que Theresly Malavé ejerce la defensa jurídica, la abogada ha recibido un trato hostil por parte del juez por solicitar el respeto de los derechos humanos de sus representados. Esta situación se agravó tras la publicación del segundo informe de la Misión Internacional Independiente de Determinación de los Hechos sobre la República Bolivariana de Venezuela de las Naciones Unidas el 16 de septiembre de 2021, que denuncia las omisiones de las autoridades judiciales ante las denuncias de actos de tortura y malos tratos ejercidos por el DGCIM y el Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN).

El Observatorio subraya que tanto Theresly Malavé como JUYPROVEN han sido víctimas de intimidación y hostigamiento constantes por parte de los cuerpos de seguridad del Estado venezolano por su labor en defensa de los derechos humanos. En 2016, la abogada fue estigmatizada y criminalizada en el programa televisivo “Con el Mazo Dando”, emisión que transmitió una llamada profesional que mantuvo con una persona exiliada, hecho que demostró que su teléfono había sido intervenido.



https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/news/un-human-rights-experts-condemn-extrajudicial-killings-by-venezuela-police-18448.asp (ENGLISH)


Venezuela: Intimidation and threat of arrest against rights lawyers Juan Carlos Barroeta Rivas and Engels Puertas


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.




https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/es/case/intimidation-and-threat-arrest-against-human-rights-lawyers-juan-carlos-barroeta-rivas-and (ESPANOL)

Venezuela: Detenido por motivos desconocidos dirigente político y defensor de los DDHH Orlando Moreno


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.



Venezuela: Attacks and harassment of Raquel Sánchez


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. 


International Bar Association: IBA 2019: ‘Enthusiastic amateurs’ wanted to protect lawyers at risk

September 27, 2019

Simon Davis IBA

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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