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At least 21 dissenting mayors have been punished in Venezuela

Since nationwide protests began against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, NGOs Acceso a la Justicia and Cepaz have taken note of political persecution by the judiciary

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) has imposed sanctions, dismissed, put behind bars or issued warrants of arrest against 21 opposition mayors

EL UNIVERSAL

  • TAIRY GAMBOA
  • FANNY MORA

05 de septiembre de 2017 04:18 AM

Actualizado el 13 de septiembre de 2017 12:56 PM

PARA COMPARTIR

NGOs report on TSJ political persecution.

A total of 19 out of 76 mayors for the Venezuelan opposition coalition Unified Democratic Panel (MUD), elected in 2013, have been subjected to sanctions, detained or facing warrant of arrest, as instructed by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ). In the meantime, pro-government municipal councils have dismissed two appointed mayors.

According to NGOs, such actions just mean political persecution by the Venezuelan government.

Back in 2014, during the protests throughout the nation against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the first sanctions were imposed on opposition mayors, resulting in the capture of Enzo Scarano, of San Diego municipality, Carabobo state, and Daniel Ceballos, San Cristóbal municipality, Táchira state.

Such action has been repeated over the past few months against other dissenting mayors, following the anti-government protests held from April to August 2017, resulting in precautionary measures, bench warrants and prison for 15 months against four mayors:
 Gustavo Marcano (Diego Bautista Urbaneja), Carlos García (Mérida), Ramón Muchacho (Chacao) and David Smolansky (El Hatillo).

Alí Daniels, the managing director of NGO Acceso a la Justicia (Access to Justice) told El Universal that since 2014, the TSJ Constitutional Chamber has pronounced at least 23 judgments against opposition mayors, after declaring itself with the competent jurisdiction.  

Political persecution
Beatriz Borges, the CEO of NGO Centro de Justicia y Paz (Center for Justice and Peace, Cepaz), told El Universal that such judgments are unconstitutional. For instance, the TSJ Constitutional Chamber banned demonstrations in certain municipalities. However, this means violation of the citizens’ right to protest, as set forth in Article 68 of the Constitution.

Based on Cepaz’s investigations, there is systematic persecution and criminalization of political dissent, with the judiciary acting as the main executor. This year, the NGO brought forward at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) an account of eight schemes, including six masterminded by the judiciary.

Add to this, commencement of legal proceedings, dismissal of public offices, raid and search of private premises, attacks on parliamentary
immunity, political disability, and usurpation of public functions, among others.

“The message to citizens is clear: anyone daring to dissent will face such consequences,” Borges said.

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