IACHR Files Application Before Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case Concerning Violence Against LGBTI Rights Defender Jesús Rondón in Venezuela

December 12, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed on August 22, 2023, an application before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case 14,167 with regard to Venezuela, concerning threats, harassment, and other forms of violence perpetrated against Jesús Rondón Gallardo—defender of the human rights of LGBTI persons—and impunity for these events.

Rondón, who identifies himself as gay and has been diagnosed with HIV, worked for the organization Asociación por la Vida (ASOVIDA) and was active as a defender of the human rights of individuals living with HIV. According to various news reports, over the period May 11–12, 2016, Rondón publicly complained about lack of access to antiretroviral drugs for 30 individuals with HIV in the city of Mérida. He also complained about the lack of formula for babies whose mothers had HIV, about the lack of reagent for monitoring tests for VIH-positive individuals, and about the broader lack of antiretroviral medication.

Following his public complaints, Jesús Rondón suffered various instances of threats, harassment, and other types of violence at the hands of individuals who were travelling on various vehicles and who, according to Rondón, belonged to "armed groups." These attackers threatened to kill him if he continued to complain against the government.

Rondón went twice to facilities run by Venezuela's Scientific, Criminal, and Forensic Corps (CICPC) to file complaints about these events. However, officials there refused to receive formal complaints and said these events had happened because he was a government critic and was protesting. Rondón also went to a facility run by the Public Prosecutor's Office Victim Support Unit to formally report what had happened, but officials there also refused to receive his complaint. In the belief that his life was at risk, he decided to move to the United States.

After assessing this case, the Commission found that Rondón had suffered multiple instances of threats, harassment, and other types of violence over a period of three months, at the hands of armed groups. In this context, the Commission found that Rondón had been at risk, and that he had faced differentiated risks as a defender of the human rights of LGBTI persons, as a gay person, and as a person living with HIV. The Commission did not have access to information that might have proved that the State had taken protection measures in Rondón's favor, so it concluded that Venezuela had failed to comply with its duty to prevent violations of the right to personal integrity.

Further, the Commission noted that the threats, harassment, and instances of physical assault suffered by Rondón were perpetrated in retaliation for his public complaints. The IACHR therefore considered that the State had failed to comply with its obligation to protect the right to freedom of expression.

The Commission stressed that Rondón had also suffered insults linked to his sexual orientation and to the fact that he is an HIV-positive person, and that the State had failed to conduct the relevant investigation or to design lines of investigation that took into consideration the context of prejudice-based violence against LGBTI persons and persons living with HIV in Venezuela. The IACHR concluded that the State was also responsible for violations of the right to a private life and of the principle of equality and non-discrimination. Further, the Commission considered that the State had violated its obligation to investigate the various threats, acts of harassment, and other acts of violence suffered by Rondón with an intersectional perspective.

The Commission found that the State of Venezuela was responsible for violations of the rights to personal integrity, honor and dignity, freedom of expression, movement and residence, equality before the law, judicial guarantees, and judicial protection held in Articles 5.1, 8.1, 11, 13, 22, 24, and 25.1 of the American Convention, in keeping with the obligations held in Article 1.1 of the same instrument.

The Commission therefore recommended that the State of Venezuela adopt the following reparation measures:

  1. Provide comprehensive reparations—both material and immaterial—for all human rights violations mentioned in the report
  2. Provide any physical and mental healthcare necessary for Jesús Rondón's rehabilitation
  3. Conduct a diligent and timely investigation of these events, to identify and punish their perpetrators
  4. Take measures of non-recurrence, including training programs for law enforcement agencies regarding violence against human rights defenders and prejudice-based violence against LGBTI persons

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. 289/23

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