HRW terms "retaliation" arrest of Venezuelan lawyer José Graterol
In a statement, Human Rights Watch condemned the arrest of judge María Lourdes Afiuni's lawyer, José Amalio Graterol. "It is difficult to conclude that this is not retaliation, similar to that Judge Afiuni is facing, for adopting a bold stance in defense of due process"
Non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch condemned the arrest on Monday of the legal representative of suspended judge María Lourdes Afiuni, José Amalio Graterol, whose first court hearing was suspended on Wednesday for the second consecutive day.
In a statement, HRW director José Miguel Vivancos expressed solidarity with Graterol and said that this situation "is a retaliation similar" to that judge Afiuni has faced "for adopting a bold stance in defense of due process. "
"Given the gross abuse suffered by his client, Judge Afiuni, now I'm not surprised that the Venezuelan authorities are against José Amalio Graterol. It is difficult to conclude that this is not retaliation, similar to that faced by judge Afiuni, for adopting a bold stance in defense of due process. In that case, this would be a new and unacceptable example of the difficulties for practicing law in a country lacking judicial independence," said Vivancos.
Graterol was arrested on Monday June 4 at the headquarters of the Judicial Circuit of Vargas State. He was acting as legal representative of a person facing trial, in the Fourth Judge Court, headed by judge Yalitza Domínguez.
According to HRW, on Sunday June 3, an interview with Graterol was aired on TV show Yo prometo (I promise), hosted by journalist Nitu Perez Osuna on news TV channel Globovision. In the interview, Graterol questioned the judiciary. His remarks, according to sources in the judicial system, were not welcomed by the judicial authorities. Consequently, the chairwoman of the Judicial Circuit of Vargas state allegedly ordered Graterol's arrest.
President Nicolás Maduro is not only the heir to the throne, but also to an economic crisis which demanded urgent measures to rectify the course. The crisis showed up in two aspects: a 50% inflation estimate, and shortage of staples ranging between 70% and 98%. These issues might hit the President's poor popularity; considering his feeble electoral victory of 1% over his challenger.