Mérida, Venezuela (18/09/2018) — The Observatory of Human Rights of the University of Los Andes (ODH–ULA) condemns the arrest of Carlos Varón and Ricardo Prieto, both firemen of the State of Mérida Firemen Department, who were jailed after making viral a satirical video of Nicolás Maduro.
The two firemen appeared on September 16 before the 2nd Tribunal of Control of the Criminal Judicial Circuit presided by Judge Carlos Márquez, who indicted them with aggravated charges of inciting hate and intolerance. These crimes are under Articles 20 and 21 of the “anti-hate law” passed in November, 2017.
Mayda Hočevar, coordinator of ODH–ULA, questioned the legal proceeding against the firemen and reiterated that the “anti-hate law” is illegitimate because it is a violation of the National Constitution and International Human Rights Treaties and it comes from the Constituent National Assembly (ANC), a fraudulent body installed from a null election, without competences to legislate, to suppress the freedom of the Venezuelan people.
In this regard, the ODH–ULA urged the government of Nicolás Maduro to release both firemen and recalled the Venezuela judiciary that pre-trial detainees are presumed innocent as established by the rule of law, which the judiciary continuously violates after having bend the knee before the executive power.
Satire is not a national threat
On the evening of Sept. 17, the legal team of the ODH–ULA went to the Directorate General for Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) headquarter, located in the city of Ejido, state of Mérida, to verify the treatment given to the firemen and to ensure their human rights, but access was denied to the lawyers.
From the ODH–ULA, Professor Hočevar also questioned the case against the firemen, since the guarantees of due process provided by the National Constitution and criminal laws were not abided. Professor Hočevar also noted that the DGCIM is a military counterintelligence body, whose sole purpose is to thwart espionage and intelligence-gathering from foreign and domestic enemies against the commander-in-chief and the armed forces of Venezuela, in order to guarantee the security and defense of the nation.
Hence, Professor Hočevar said she does not understand how the release of a satirical video can be considered a threat against national security. In addition, she said that this action against Carlos Varón and Ricardo Prieto proves the dictatorial nature of the regime of Nicolás Maduro, who promoted the “anti-hate law” through the unconstitutional ANC to hold on to power and punish the dissidence with imprisonment, thus violating the Constitution and bypassing the legally constituted powers such as the National Assembly. / Press ODH–ULA