GENEVA (30 April 2020) – UN human rights experts* said today they are alarmed that increasing threats, attacks and charges against journalists, health workers and others in Venezuela could deter those working to safeguard human rights.
"We are deeply concerned about what appears to be an intensification of the stigmatisation, attacks and criminalisation of human rights defenders since the state of health emergency was declared on 13 March,” the experts said.
Access to information for the population on the scale of the health crisis and the measures taken by the Government is a key right at this time. Therefore, the authorities must refrain from taking any kind of reprisals against health professionals, social communicators and individuals using social networks that provide information and warn the population about the pandemic.
"We are even more concerned about the deterrent effect this may have on the legitimate work of human rights defenders working to safeguard human rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and during an election year, where the exercise of freedom of expression and information is essential,” the experts said.
Public support for those who defend human rights and journalists without discrimination is vital to enable the promotion and protection of human rights.
“We urge the government of Venezuela to promote spaces for dialogue while reaffirming its commitment to human rights and not to adopt legislation further restricting freedom of association, through sanctions on civil society organizations receiving international funding,” the experts said.
The experts have contacted the Government of Venezuela with their concerns.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.