Despite Venezuela's withdrawal, IACHR still hears cases against it
Its latest ruling found Venezuela guilty of executing a young man in 2001
On October 12, the court located in San José, Costa Rica, found Venezuela guilty of violating Nestor Uzcátegui's right to life. On January 1st, 2001, Uzcátegui had been executed by alleged officers of the Falcon State Police Force.
According to the victim's relatives, who were represented by the Committee for Families of Victims of the Events of February and March 1989 (known in Spanish as Cofavic), the officers broke into the family home located in the neighborhood of La Velita II, in the city of Coro, and without a word fired several rounds at the victim. He was only 21 years old and was studying high school and working in construction at the time.
The agents then attempted to pass off Uzcátegui's death as a shootout and even planted a firearm in his hand.
Eleven years later, no one had been convicted for the crime. Therefore, the court's ruling urges local authorities to complete, once and for all, any investigations pending on this case and punish the perpetrators accordingly.
It also seeks compensation of USD 220,000 for the victim's family.
In addition, the court found the country accountable for violating the victim's parent's right to privacy and private property because the operation in which their son was killed was conducted without any judge's order, thus infringing upon article 47 of the Venezuelan Constitution.
This is the second ruling against Venezuela handed down by the San José Court on irregular police action.
Last December, a ruling finding the state guilty of the actions against the Barrios family perpetrated by the Aragua State Police Force was published. Since 1998, seven members of that Aragua family have been executed by agents in uniform.
Venezuela is no stranger to execution of alleged criminals by public servants. Nevertheless, this has become more commonplace since 1999 and has reached unprecedented levels, to the extent that no civil or military organization is clear of investigations for this type of crime.
According to the Public Prosecution Ministry, from 2000 to 2007, a total of 7,107 people died in confrontation with authorities in Venezuela. That number may very well be in excess of 9,000 by now.
Until 2007, the office currently led by Luisa Ortega Díaz had identified over 6,000 officers as suspects in this sort of crime, but investigations were launched against only 2,000 of them, and just 200 of them had been tried and convicted by the courts of justice.
Despite this panorama, the Court issued no special instructions for the Government, as it seemed satisfied with the changes implemented by the Commission for Police Reform.
Translated by Félix Rojas Alva
Luis Jiménez Alfaro seems to have hidden under the rocks. The last time he was seen was on April 2006 walking calmly around Simón Bolívar International Airport of Maiquetía, located nearby Caracas. At that time, more than five tons of cocaine arrived in Mexico in an airplane which took off from Venezuela, and his name featured as a missing piece of the puzzle of one of the most massive drug shipments that has been witnessed in the Western Hemisphere.