July 27, 2020
Keymer Ávila | @Keymer_Avila
In this second installment on the most relevant data from the Chapter on the Right to Personal Liberty of the Provea 2019 Annual Report, which we were in charge of, we will focus on detentions for political reasons, the temporal and territorial distribution of generic illegal or arbitrary arrests, the responsible security forces and the situation at police checkpoints.
Arrests for political reasons
During the period analyzed, 83 cases and 193 victims of deprivation of liberty for political reasons were registered, which represents a decrease in these cases (30.8%) compared to 2018, in which the highest number of arrests of this type was reported. . However, if it is compared with the general average of annual cases, which Provea has registered since 2009, it would be an increase of 186%, which gives continuity to a clear and worrying trend of increasing these cases in recent years. It is noteworthy that 2 of these cases are in turn forced disappearances.
It is important to note that, like the year 2018 , at least 9% of these detainees were deprived of liberty for having a family relationship (son, brother, cousin, brother-in-law) or close relationship (neighbor or lawyer) with someone persecuted for political reasons. This practice seems to spread and become more and more common in this type of case, which violates the basic principle of the personal nature of the penalty, and consequently of the entire process that leads to it. Emblematic cases are those of Juan Pedro LARES in 2017 and José Alberto MARULANDA in 2018. These arbitrariness by the security forces violate the rights of citizens and expose the entire society to a situation of defenselessness and constant risk.
The months in which the highest number of illegal or arbitrary detentions were recorded were January and April. In January, at least 1,021 people were arrested, most of these cases are linked to the protests against the government that began on the 21st of this month. In April there were also various protests throughout the country motivated by the demand for basic services, especially due to the failures in the electrical service that began in March. In some states they lasted weeks without the provision of the service, which also generated problems with the water supply. Almost a third of these events occurred in Zulia state. Finally, on the 30than attempt was made to carry out a coup, all these events positioned April as the month with the second highest number of arrests, totaling 612 people deprived of liberty. At least 3 dozen of these people were arrested after their participation in demonstrations, when they were already in their homes.
The states that presented the first places in the greatest number of illegal or arbitrary detentions were the following: Zulia with 537 (20.4%), Anzoátegui with 237 (9%), Miranda with 230 (8.7%), the Capital District with 227 (8.6%), Lara with 223 (8.5%) and Aragua with 196 (7.44%), these 6 states add up to 63% of all registered cases, in which it was possible to identify the place of idea.
Responsible security forces
Of the cases in which the responsible security body could be registered, the FANB stands out with 52% of the arrests, the GNB is involved in the majority (48.5%). The growing role of the FANB and entities such as the DGCIM in this type of arrest is worrying, which serves as an indicator of the increase in militarization in the state response , not only in terms of citizen security, but also in the repression against political dissent. . It is followed by the PNB with 13% of the cases. It is noteworthy that in 58% of these the leading role belongs to its division, the FAES, which has no competencies or training for public order tasks or containment of demonstrations, but rather lethal attack for extreme situationsTherefore, their interventions should be exceptional and not daily. In general terms, the national forces carried out 73.6% of these arrests, followed by the municipal police with 18.6% and the state police with 7.8%.
In this regard, the considerable reduction in joint operations between the different security forces stands out (by more than 80 points), both in mass arrests and in the context of demonstrations. This data could account for the existence of a process of rearrangement of the different security forces in which joint operations are no longer an option. This reduction, together with the increasingly frequent confrontations between different security forces , could be symptoms of a fragmentation process between these bodies.
There is also an increase in the cases carried out by the municipal and state police, which could possibly be explained by the control that the National Executive currently has over these security forces, after the disputed elections of October and December 2017.
Situation in police cells
Finally, 203 cases and 4,027 victims of human rights violations in jails and police checkpoints were registered , this represents an increase of 62% compared to 2018; and 156% more than the average of the last 9 years systematized by Provea. This figure is the highest recorded during that period. At least 66% of these detainees suffered overcrowding, 9% mistreatment, 4% reported health problems, and 2% were victims of violations of the right to life. Overcrowding increased 16 points compared to last year. At least 83 people died in State custody, 116 suffered violations against their personal integrity and 114 fled, constituting the highest figures that Provea has registered for this type of event in recent years.
To read the full report, click on this link: https://www.academia.edu/43320318/Derecho_a_la_Libertad_Personal_en_Venezuela_2019
Publicado originalmente en Provea.