(Mérida 12/16/2019).- The most recent report of the Observatory of Human Rights of the University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA) accounts for more than 30 cases in which lawyers of this organization are part, assist or represent the direct victims or by extension, some of which they have been waiting for justice for more than two years due to delays, denials and irregularities in due process. «Victims without justice: impunity and human rights violations» is a report that shows the absence of a rule of law in Venezuela in judicial matters.
The cases presented in the aforementioned report are taken by the Public Ministry or different courts of the country. In none of them has there been any response or legal action, since many of them constitute serious violations of human rights committed by the State. In others, as cases of extrajudicial executions, the ODH-ULA has documented significant violations of legal proceedings.
Public Ministry: failed institution
Article 285 of the National Constitution establishes the powers of the Public Ministry, the most essential being to guarantee the human rights established in international treaties. It is also the obligation of this institution to ensure the speed of justice and respect for due process, as well as to initiate the investigation and take the corresponding criminal action against punishable acts to contribute to the determination of the responsibility of the alleged perpetrators.
However, the cases outlined in the report demonstrate the non-compliance by the Public Ministry officials with their constitutional duties. In the more than 30 documented cases from April 2017 to August 2019, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has not initiated any criminal investigations or prosecutions, even though the cases do not require a prosecution. This reveals a deficient capacity on the part of this governmental entity to investigate and prosecute crimes, especially those related to serious human rights violations.
The lack of employment independence of the career officials of the Public Ministry constitutes one of the limitations in their actions. In September 2018, Resolution No. 2703 of the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic established that all career positions of officials serving in the Office are transformed into positions of trust, which are freely appointed and removed. As a result, these officials lost their job stability and, therefore, their freedom to act without fear of being removed from their positions. Of the 2,214 prosecutors currently in the country, 1,471 are auxiliary, 740 are provisional and only three are incumbents.
Impunity that revictimizes
The ODH-ULA legal team counts within the cases included in the report some with more than 30 months awaiting justice. A total of eight complaints filed by ODH-ULA lawyers – between April 2017 and August 2019 – with the Public Prosecutor’s Office are still awaiting investigation. One of them groups 18 victims who did not have access to health at the Autonomous Institute of Los Andes University Hospital (IAHULA, by its acronym in Spanish) during July 2017 due to the lack of supplies, medications and medical equipment. On the other hand, seven other cases where the victims are assisted by ODH-ULA lawyers present procedural delay in the courts.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the case of the university student Erickvaldo Márquez, whose imprisonment was executed without carrying out the pertinent rigorous and timely investigations. The ODH-ULA rejects the speed demonstrated in said detention while for the granting of justice in the cases included in the report the recurring feature is the procedural delay.
This observatory denounces the lack of action of the bodies that must seek justice, whose consequent impunity constitutes a de facto government policy of Nicolás Maduro, increasing the repetition of crimes and human rights violations. Victims without justice reviewing this report suffer double victimization, as they do not receive timely and adequate legal attention from the State.