Target: Dr. Luisa Ortega Diaz, Attorney General of Venezuela
Goal: Protect the privacy of human rights activists and their families and investigate the interception of private messages.
A Venezuelan human rights activist has been the victim of a campaign of harassment and threats including references to information that could only be found in his private correspondences. Humberto Prado Sifontes, the longtime leader of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory, began receiving threats after highlighting in an interview the role of Governor Tareck El Aissami of Aragua State in the state’s prison crisis. In response, Governor Aissami slandered Sifontes, accusing him of being a prison gang leader. In the following days Sifontes’ Twitter and Facebook accounts were hacked and he was at the receiving end of a concerted campaign to smear him. Information about his advocacy work found only in his private messages was published, and replicated throughout the web.
The Venezuelan Prison Observatory is a nonprofit that documents conditions in Venezuelan prisons, and advocates for better conditions. Conditions in Venezuela’s prisons are notoriously poor, with violence, unrest, and regular violations of prisoners’ rights leading to circumstances that have resulted in thousands of deaths and around ten thousand injuries since 2004. However, groups seeking to improve conditions often find themselves at the receiving end of smear campaigns, intimidation, and violence. Collaborators of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory have been abducted, and threats often include personal information such as home addresses, names of children, and workplace addresses. Sign our petition and demand an end to the campaign of intimidation against Humberto Prado Sifontes and demand an investigation into the interception of his private messages.
Dear Attorney General Diaz,
I was alarmed to hear of the campaign of intimidation against Humberto Prado Sifontes and other members of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory. It is unacceptable that advocates for human rights, and other organizations that seek to do nothing more than to keep the government to its legal obligations are subject to reprisals. Further, it is unacceptable that public officials such as Governor El Aissami engage in slander and encourage threats against human rights activists. I urge you to recognize the legitimacy of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory, a human rights advocacy group, and accordingly ensure that they can do their work without fear of reprisals.
Secondly, in the course of the campaign of intimidation that Sifontes has been the target of, information has been revealed that was not available outside of Sifontes’ private correspondences. Publishing this material is a gross violation of Sifontes’ privacy, but accessing this material requires individuals to break the law. As such, I urge you to open an independent investigation into the violation of Mr. Sifontes’ privacy and to take the necessary measures to ensure his safety and privacy.
[Your Name Here]
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