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It is Time to End the Emergency Regime

The international community must demand the cessation of measures and accountability for human rights violations

On Friday, August 21, 2015, Nicolás Maduro announced the declaration of a state of emergency that covered six municipalities in the state of Táchira. In the following days, the measure was expanded to cover 24 municipalities in 4 states, all bordering Colombia.

It was the first time that this figure had been used, since the approval of the new Constitution in December 1999. In addition, the declaration of the exception was accompanied by the suspension of the guarantees of the rights to the inviolability of the home, inviolability of communications, free movement, assembly, peaceful demonstration and free economic activity.

During the weekend that followed the announcement, no official information was provided on the scope of the provision, generating a sense of legal uncertainty, which was added to the fact that two days before a process of massive expulsion of the Colombian population had begun without due process, which affected more than 23 thousand people.

Although the “economic emergency” was the basis to justify the state of emergency, this legal framework was used to create eight special zones under the authority of military officials.

The pro-government majority, which by then dominated the National Assembly (NA), endorsed the successive declarations of emergency between August and November 2015, the last of which remained in force until January 11, 2016; Likewise, the Supreme Court, dominated by Maduro’s regime, declared the constitutionality of all decrees.

On December 6, 2015, the opposition won the majority of the seats in the parliamentary elections and on January 14, 2016, Maduro declared an economic emergency throughout the national territory, which has been continuously renewed since then. As of the declaration of the economic emergency in January 2015, the opposition majority in the NA has rejected the successive decrees. However, the TSJ has confirmed their constitutionality, leaving aside the role of the Legislative to control the government’s actions, by alleging that the NA is in contempt, so its decisions would be invalid.

In addition to having bypassed the legislative body since January 2016, the regime has also failed to comply with its international obligations insofar as it has not informed the UN Secretary General of the measures taken since August 2015, as required the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 4.3), of which Venezuela is a party.

Although the decrees with national coverage that have been issued uninterruptedly since January 2016 have not been accompanied by a suspension of constitutional guarantees, in practice decisions have been adopted that are not only agreed outside the NA, but have also served as an excuse for human rights violations that have affected various sectors, such as political and social leaders, businessmen, merchants and human rights defenders. The decrees have also been used to concentrate power in the Executive, strengthen military dominance and tighten social control by incorporating armed civilian groups as part of the public order management bodies.

For five years, Maduro’s regime has acted outside of the control that should be part of the balance of powers of a democratic society, without being accountable to the citizens of Venezuela or to the international human rights monitoring bodies. It is time for the international community to demand the cessation of the exceptional regime and accountability for the human rights violations that occurred under this unjustified emergency.

21 de agosto de 2020

  Organizations belonging to the AlertaVenezuela promoting team have produced important reference information on the exceptional regime that prevails in Venezuela since August 2015. In this regard we recommend:   Human Rights Center, Andrés Bello Catholic University: Estados de Excepción y Cierre de Frontera. Relación de decretos y resoluciones actualizada al 16 de noviembre de 2015 Situación de los decretos de estado de excepción al 30 de diciembre de 2015 Relación cronológica de los decretos que declaran el Estado de Excepción y Emergencia Económica desde 2016   Access to Justice: El Estado de Excepción y emergencia económica en el camino a la dictadura   Available in Spanish only