12th Session of the UPR Working Group
Delegation of the United States of America
Geneva, October 7, 2011
The United States welcomes Foreign Minister Maduro and the Venezuelan delegation to the UPR Working Group. We view as positive the draft law to extend protections to all victims of human trafficking.
We remain concerned about specific actions taken by the Venezuelan government to limit freedom of expression and criminalize dissent, including using administrative pretexts to close media outlets and harassing media owners and members of the political opposition through judicial action. We note Venezuela’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect freedom of expression, as well as the protections in the Venezuelan constitution.
Additionally, we note the importance of an independent judiciary to representative government, and express our concern about increasing evidence that the Venezuelan judiciary lacks the independence necessary to fulfill its role in society. We further note the obligations contained in the Venezuelan constitution to respect judicial independence and permit judges to act according to the law and without fear of retaliation. In this context, we join others in the international community in urging for the release of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, whose arrest and continued imprisonment demonstrate inappropriate executive involvement in judicial functions and constitute a violation of her human rights.
Finally, we are concerned by continued anti-Semitism expressed in the official media.
In light of these concerns, we recommend that Venezuela:
1. Respect the independence of the judiciary.
2. Investigate allegations of executive branch interference in judicial decision-making.
3. Direct officials to cease anti-Semitic commentary and condemn any such statements.
4. Urge the National Assembly to adopt the draft legislation on trafficking in persons.
5. Intensify its efforts to provide protection to asylum seekers and refugees, including through the timely provision of documentation as to their legal status and rights.
6. Accept visit requests from the UN Special Rapporteurs and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.