IACHR Brings Case on Violation of Political Rights, Unlawful Deprivation of Liberty, and Forced Disappearances in Venezuela before IA Court

August 5, 2022

Related links

Contact info

IACHR Press Office

[email protected]

Distribution List

Subscribe to our distribution list

Washington, D.C. — On July 6, 2022, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court) over a case concerning Venezuela regarding the violation of the political rights of Mayor Omar Adolfo Lares Sánchez, and the illegal deprivation of freedom and torture of his son, Juan Pedro Lares Rángel.

In July 2017, officials of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) reportedly entered the house of Mayor Omar Adolfo Lares violently and without a search warrant. His son, Juan Pedro Lares, was taken into custody without a warrant before being beaten, threatened, and tortured to obtain information about his father's whereabouts.

After these events had been reported, Juan Pedro Lares's whereabouts were not known until August 15, 2017, and he was not released until June 2018. According to the information presented, which was not contested by the State, Juan Pedro Lares suffered violations of his rights to health and food, was held in poor conditions of detention, and did not have access to visits from his lawyer.

In Admissibility and Merits Report 390/21, the IACHR determined that the State violated Juan Pedro Lares's right to personal liberty through illegal, arbitrary detention, since he was not found perpretrating a crime, there was no warrant against him, and he was not informed of the reasons for his arrest.

These events constituted forced disappearance, taking into account the fact that State agents detained Juan Pedro Lares in an illegal, arbitrary manner, after which his name was not included on the list of detainees in State custody and his whereabouts were concealed.

Regarding his family's rights, the IACHR deemed that the State violated the right to the inviolability of the home by entering without authorization, and violated the personal integrity of Juan Pedro Lares's relatives, causing them pain, anguish, and uncertainty.

Likewise, the State violated the rights to a fair trial and judicial protection, since no information was provided on the responses to, results from, or progress on investigations by the authorities, nor was an investigation initiated into the allegations of torture.

Finally, the Commission deemed that Omar Adolfo Lares's political rights and rights to freedom of movement and residence had also been also violated: as a result of these events, he was forced to move and was unable to continue serving as mayor, an office to which he had been elected.

The IACHR concluded that the State is responsible for violating the rights to life, humane treatment, personal liberty, and privacy, the right to a fair trial, judicial protection, the right to participate in government, and freedom of movement and residence established in articles 4.1, 5.1 and 5.2, 7, 8.1, 11.2, 22.1, 23.1.c, and 25.1 of the American Convention, in relation to Article 1.1. The State is also responsible for the violation of Articles 1, 6, and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture and article I.a) of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons.

In its report, the IACHR made the following recommendations to the State of Venezuela:

  1. Provide comprehensive material and moral redress for the human rights violations set out in the report.
  2. Provide the physical and mental healthcare measures needed to help Juan Pedro Lares Rángel and his family with the recovery process, should they so wish. Any such measures should be agreed upon with them.
  3. Launch or continue the criminal investigation into these events diligently, effectively, and within a reasonable period of time, so as to completely clarify the facts, identify those who are responsible for them, and impose the corresponding sanctions.
  4. Guarantee the conditions of safety needed for the members of the Lares Rangel family to return to Venezuela, in the event that they desire to do so.
  5. Issue a high-level directive instructing SEBIN officials to refrain from any practice that constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, including acts of sexual and gender-based violence. Investigate and prosecute the use of torture, including during interrogations.
  6. Ensure that the conditions of detention at SEBIN, in El Helicoide, are appropriate and that detainees have: "a) ventilated cells with access to natural light; b) access to clean, sufficiently private toilets and showers; c) nutritious food; and d) necessary, appropriate, dignified, and timely health care."

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 176/22

4:51 PM