Geneva, 14 January 2021
“We are deeply concerned by continuous and increasing attacks in Venezuela against civil society organizations, human rights defenders and journalists. In the latest incident, on 12 January in Zulia state, military counter-intelligence and regional police officers raided the NGO Azul Positivo. Documents were seized and six staff members were arrested. Five of them remain in detention. They have not been able to see their lawyers or families.
At least three media outlets were also targeted on 8 January, when public servants reportedly seized their equipment, sealed their offices and intimidated staff. These incidents followed similar cases of journalists being harassed or intimidated, as public officials issued a series of statements delegitimizing the media. There are increasingly worrying reports that journalists are censoring themselves out of fear.
We urge the authorities to stop targeting people for performing legitimate work, be it in the humanitarian or human rights sector or in the media. A free, diverse and active civil society is crucial for any democracy and it must be protected, not stigmatized or persecuted.”