Press Release

IACHR Extends Protection Measures in Favor of Katherine Martínez, Head of Prepara Familia, in Venezuela

August 7, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 42/2020 on August 6, 2020, to extend precautionary measures in favor of Katherine Martínez, head of the organization Prepara Familia, in Venezuela, in the belief that she faces a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable damage to her rights.

According to this request for precautionary measures, Mrs. Martínez is at risk for her work as a defender of the human rights of children at the José Manuel de los Ríos (“JM de los Ríos”) Children’s Hospital in Venezuela. Mrs. Martínez has requested precautionary measures in favor of children who were patients at the hospital, and she currently represents those children in precautionary measure proceedings before the IACHR. On February 21, 2018, the IACHR moved to request the adoption of precautionary measures in favor of children who were patients at the hospital’s nephrology unit. On August 21, 2019, the Commission decided to extend precautionary measures in favor of children in 13 of the hospital’s units. The Commission continues to monitor these precautionary measures, which remain in force.

According to the Commission’s assessment, Mrs. Martínez has played a crucial role to document and record the critical situation at JM de los Ríos Hospital, and she also provides humanitarian assistance to patients at the hospital and their families. The IACHR has been able to monitor—in the context of precautionary measures issued in 2018 and extended in 2019—the deplorable conditions in which children patients are being held at the hospital. The Commission has been informed of several instances of threats and acts of intimidation and harassment against Mrs. Martínez, who allegedly enjoys no protection.

After assessing the legal and factual allegations made by petitioners, the IACHR considered that—based on the standards that are applicable prima facie—Mrs. Martínez faces a situation of grave and urgent risk, since her rights risk suffering irreparable damage. Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission has asked the Venezuelan State to: a) adopt any measures necessary to protect Mrs. Martínez’s life and personal integrity (in particular, the State must ensure that the beneficiary’s rights are respected—in compliance with the standards of international human rights law—both by officers of the State and with regard to dangerous acts that might be perpetrated by third parties); b) come to an agreement with the beneficiary and her representatives regarding any measures that need to be adopted; and c) report on any actions taken to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this resolution, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on alleged violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.

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. 193/20