Menu Close

The ghost of the anti-NGO law in Venezuela resurfaces

Illegitimate National Assembly approving anti-ong law. Source: Monitoreamos

On January 24, the illegitimate National Assembly approved in its first discussion another bill to control and crash down Venezuelan NGOs in case they fail to comply with the government’s abusive and discretional registration and inspection requirements. This is the fifth time that the State has tried to regulate the operation and financing of NGOs through restrictive laws that criminalize the exercise of freedom of association and the participation of organizations in matters of public interest[1].

The bill of the “Law for the Inspection, Regularization, Action and Financing of Non-Governmental and Related Organizations” was presented by Diosdado Cabello, who, in his speech before Congress, pointed out that “organizations are appendages of external organizations that are only in charge of to work for the empire” According to the pro-government leader, “the NGOs used to have social and humanitarian work but now those that operate in our country, almost all of them, are in the political sphere and have the goal of destabilizing our country”, commenting that there are “62 organizations that operate for political purposes.”

After this stigmatizing declaration, the bill was automatically approved in the first discussion, without review of the explanatory statement, the objectives of the law, its scope and feasibility, or its articles, and without the text having been published for consultation, which contradicts article 208 of the Venezuelan Constitution. The lack of discussion of these legal initiatives is part of a restrictive pattern when it comes to fencing off civic space with the aim of nullifying the possibilities of protection and defense of thousands of victims who suffer daily crimes against human rights in Venezuela.

Among other provisions contrary to freedom of association and other rights, the project imposes in its article 12 a registration process with an abusive obligation to NGOs to declare the data on their constitution, statutes, members, activities they carry out, origin, administration and destination of its resources, with detailed specification of its financing sources. In addition, article 15 indicates the prohibitions and the nature of the administrative process to which NGOs are subjected in case of incurring any assumption such as “receiving contributions destined to organizations for political purposes”, “promoting or allowing actions that threaten the stability and the institutions of the Republic” “or any act prohibited by Venezuelan legislation”, repeating the customary discretionary terms that grant to the official on duty the greatest freedom to sanction.

This new attempt to control Venezuelan civil society takes up problematic provisions of Administrative Ruling No. 001-2021 (such as revealing beneficiaries and financial records, criminal prosecution in case of non-compliance with registration obligations) and the bill on “International Cooperation” that finally was not culminated in the previous legislative period. Therefore, it constitutes a weapon that inaugurates 2023 with additional risks for defenders and organizations that watch over rights and humanitarian work in Venezuela, which already face multiple and aggravated forms of violence from political power, and their members, in addition to serious human rights violations and in some cases crimes against humanity.

AlertaVenezuela condemns this continuum of State violence against the Venezuelan civic space that reveals its intention to break the victims by suffocating citizen assistance and the possibilities of obtaining justice in the country, as well as escaping public scrutiny in the face of sustaining arbitrary acts. Furthermore, it urges the international community to raise the political costs of this pseudo-legal initiative to discourage its enactment.

[1] C1 (2023) AN inicia por quinta vez en 17 años la discusión de una ley para fiscalizar las ONG. Recuperado en fecha 25/01/2023: