Press Release

IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of People at the Cabimas Pretrial Detention Center (“Retén de Cabimas”) in Venezuela

February 7, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - On February 6, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 15/2020 (link in Spanish), through which it granted precautionary measures in favor of men and women who are being deprived of their freedom at the Cabimas Pretrial Detention Center in Venezuela, as well as those who work at the center or enter it as visitors, whom it deems to be at serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their human rights.

In reaching this decision, the IACHR deemed that the allegations are part of a broader critical state of affairs for all people who are deprived of their freedom in Venezuela, which has been getting worse since 2016. The IACHR observed that the people held at the center are exposed to multiple sources of risk that have continued over time without yet having been effectively mitigated by the competent authorities. These risks include shortcomings in the physical structure of the center itself, the alarming rates of overcrowding, and the difficulties in assisting those who require medical attention. The shortfalls in medical care, unsanitary conditions, and lack of sufficient food all aggravate the situation. Likewise, the IACHR noted that many severe acts of violence had been recorded at the center, mainly as a consequence of the presence of pranes or heavily armed people who exercise de facto control within the facility, which the state has failed to respond to.

Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR requested that the state of Venezuela a) immediately take the necessary measures to protect the right to life and personal integrity of all beneficiaries. These measures must be adopted by the states taking into account the different circumstances of the people who are deprived of their liberty at the center, especially those of pregnant women and mothers; b) adopt the relevant measures to bring the situation described above in line with applicable international standards on the treatment of people who are deprived of their freedom, which may include confiscating weapons that inmates have in their possession, reducing overcrowding and improving conditions of detention, providing medical care to those who require it, ensuring that there are sufficient trained personnel on hand to control, guard, and monitor the facility and those held there appropriately and effectively, and that those who have been convicted are held separately from those who have not, among other measures; c) that it determine the measures to be adopted in consultation with the representative for this precautionary measure; and d) and that it report on the actions it takes to investigate the allegations that led to the adoption of these precautionary measures so as to prevent them from being repeated.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the state does not entail a prejudgment on any petition that may eventually be filed before the inter-American system to allege that the rights protected by all applicable instruments have been violated.

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 on Human Rights is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States whose principal functions are to promote the observance and defense of human rights and to serve as an advisory body to the Organization in this area. The IACHR 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. 032/20