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Law judging crimes against human rights does not speak of cooperation

On December 15, 2021, the National Assembly approved the “Law of the Commission for the Guarantee of Justice and reparation of the victims of Crimes against Human Rights.” An unconsulted and express procedure dispatched the regulation in just two days.

These undemocratic ways of reproducing “laws” as if they were ministerial resolutions are not strange in the ruling party. The rush to adopt relevant decisions recalls when the 2015 National Assembly appointed 13 magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, as well as when the Constitutional Chamber of such Court in 2020 appointed and sworn in the 5 main rectors of the National Electoral Council. In both cases, the ruling party had an immediate political objective in mind: to block the functioning of the new Assembly in the first; and the securing of positions in the parliamentary elections of December 6, in the second. There is no clearer example than the 31 “constitutional decrees” that allowed the President of the Republic to govern under a state of emergency from 2016 to 2021, a year in which he finally dispensed with the legal artifice by regaining official hegemony in the Congress.

The recent “law” approved by the AN should be placed in this contextual perspective. The national experience shows a relationship between decisions on institutions that are dictated unilaterally and expeditiously and the execution of a partisan maneuver at the hands of the government. The connecting factor with this “law” is the so-called “Commission for the Guarantee of Justice and Reparation of Victims of Crimes against Human Rights”, which proclaims itself independent, technical and complementary to the justice system (articles 6, 7 and 18), even though with members who will be appointed at convenience by the current National Assembly.

It is of concern that the Commission may “follow up on the investigations and processes of the justice system (…)” (Article 7.2), where “public servants are obliged to give access and supply, preferentially and urgently, copies of any document that is requested by the Commission or its Executive Secretariat ”(article 17, first paragraph). Furthermore, in the name of the “safety of the victims”, “the Commission’s actions (…) will be reserved against third parties.” The equation political friends, opacity, and broad powers, following the observed context, could lead to further damage to rights. What would this Commission aim for in relation to the justice system and victims?

Laws in Venezuela cannot be read from the content. The apparent cooperation of the Venezuelan State with international human rights protection systems, including the OHCHR, is delegitimized by regulations that contain such logic of concentration of power. Before the International Criminal Court, the message should be similar. The non-independent and unconsulted “justice commissions” do not correspond to a genuine will to investigate and punish crimes committed in accordance with the Rome Statute. This “law” should put us on alert because even so it will be covered under the language of “cooperation” while trying to relativize international pressure on the government.