Target: Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela
Goal: Immediately stop the surveillance, intimidation, and persecution of activists in Venezuela.
Human rights advocates in Venezuela are reporting widespread and repeated attempts by law enforcement and government officials to harass, intimidate, and surveil them. Many report unidentified men following and photographing them, while others report increased scrutiny and intensive searches at airports. Some have been publicly accused of espionage and contributing to political unrest and destabilization.
Officials have falsely accused reputable human rights organizations of attempting to undermine Venezuelan democracy. The organizations, which document human rights abuses, represent victims before court hearings, and advocate for improved liberties, have had unsubstantiated claims against them published by politicians on the mainstream media. According to an open letter signed by 28 rights organizations across the world, these reports were released in an attempt to discredit the organizations.
According to activists, the Venezuelan government is guilty of several human rights abuses, including the failure to investigate allegations of violence during 2014’s mass protests. These protests resulted in 43 deaths and hundreds of injuries, with some victims reporting being kidnapped, raped or tortured. Human rights groups say that Venezuelan officials not only allowed pro-government vigilantes to commit these crimes, but overtly participated and then proceeded to cover up wrongdoing.
The Venezuelan government is bound by international law to ensure that human rights activists are allowed to do their jobs without being threatened by harassment or intimidation. So far, it has done the exact opposite by allowing officials to openly defame and stalk them. Sign the petition below to demand that Venezuela stop its unnecessary persecution of human rights advocacy organizations.
Dear Mr. Nicolás Maduro,
Human rights advocates in Venezuela are being followed, recorded, photographed, and harassed by government officials. They are being publicly accused of contributing to civil unrest and attempting to undermine the authority of the government. These false accusations are being made on mass media networks in an attempt to discredit the activists’ legitimate work, which includes finding and reporting rights violations and representing victims in hearings.
Under international law, the Venezuelan government is required to ensure that human rights defenders can operate without harassment, discrimination, or intimidation by the government. Particularly considering the government’s past record of human rights violations, these advocates are essential to a fair and democratic society. We, the undersigned, demand that the government stop its assault on human rights organizations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Cancillería del Ecuador via Flickr Creative Commons