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Venezuela Creates National Council for the Defense of Human Rights

On Wednesday, the National Human Rights Council was established in the offices of the Vice President.  This agency will strengthen, coordinate and promote government policies aimed at guaranteeing the free exercise, protection and defense of human rights in order to bring peace and social justice.

“It is a coordination agency between the branches of government, to bring us in with non-government human rights organization aimed at defending and protecting human rights,” explained Vice President Jorge Arreaza during a television interview.

The Vice President indicated that the government is counting “on an institutional, ethical and political framework that will guarantee widespread human rights for Venezuelans that go beyond the criminal code.”  He said that the new coordination agency will not replace any human rights organization, but rather it will support them. 

On a related note, he also announced that an agreement was reached on how to structure a commission that will evaluate recognition and reparations for victims of the April 11, 2002, coup d’état, who recently demanded compensation.  To that end, a working group was established that will attend to the victims ad will go beyond giving them material goods in order to guarantee them housing, health care, work and education.

Another Call to the Opposition

During the same television appearance, Vice President Arreaza reiterated a call for opposition assemblypersons to join the National Human Rights Council.  He reminded everyone that the Maduro administration first invited them to take part in the council following meetings between the government and opposition.

“On day one, the President told the opposition to name two representatives.  We have been waiting for a month, but we once again ask them to join in order to strengthen [the council],” Arreaza said.

Antecedents and Responsibilities

The National Human Rights Council was proposed during a meeting between the government and a commission of foreign ministers of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) that visited Caracas on March 25 and 26 in order to contribute to a dialogue spurred by the Venezuelan government with different sectors of the country.

In addition to the Vice-presidency, the agency will include Supreme Court Justice Gladys Gutiérrez, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, Public Defender Gabriela Ramírez, High Commissioner for Peace Isis Ochoa, Defense Minister Carmen Meléndez, Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres and Commune Minister Reinaldo Iturriza.

The agency will be able to solicit help from national and international organizations when situations arise that threaten the human rights of individuals or vulnerable groups.  It will also contribute to the design, planning, structure and formulation of government public polices and strategies in matters relating to human rights.  Another of its duties will be to support the agencies of the appropriate branches of government as a national observer of the state of fundamental rights in the country.

AVN / Press – Venezuelan Embassy in the US / May 1, 2014

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