By Parliamentarians for Global Action
10 May 2019, New York
Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) calls on relevant national authorities to immediately release Mr. Edgar Zambrano, vice-president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, who was arbitrarily detained on Wednesday 8 May 2019 by agents of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional, SEBIN) in Caracas.
On 30 April 2019, the president of the National Assembly and opposition leader Juan Guaidó unsuccessfully attempted to stage a non-violent uprising against the Maduro administration, calling on the armed forces to stop supporting him. Maduro was re-elected in May 2018 after a heavily questioned electoral process deemed illegitimate. No International Organization to which Venezuela is a member or with which Venezuela has a cooperation agreement validated this process. The illegal detention of Mr. Zambrano is part of the retaliation response of the government to this attempt.
The persecution of political opponents has been a tool used by the Maduro regime to silence dissent. In early April 2019, the Constituent Assembly stripped Mr. Guaidó of his parliamentary immunity in contravention to the Article 200 of the Constitution, which reads as follow: “Deputies of the National Assembly shall enjoy immunity in the exercise of their functions from the time of their installation until the end of their term or resignation. Only the Supreme Tribunal of Justice shall have competence over any crimes may be charged as committed by members of the National Assembly, and only the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, subject to authorization in advance from the National Assembly, shall have the power to order their arrest and prosecution. In the case of a flagrant offense committed by a legislator, the competent authority shall place such legislator under house arrest and immediately notify the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of such event.”
Additionally, the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, which lacks judicial independence as various international organizations have pointed out, has ordered the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of 3 parliamentarians, namely Sergio Vergara, Freddy Superlano and Juan Andrés Mejía. In this regard, on 8 May 2019, the president of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy, Sovereignty and Integration, Mr. Francisco Sucre, PGA member, has denounced this decision as unconstitutional.
The repressive apparatus of the regime has severely affected 24 parliamentarians and 5 of their deputies, who have been forced to exile or arbitrary detention.
The attacks carried by the Venezuelan regime against their civilian opponents have been widespread and systematic: Such attacks may be qualified as the crime against humanity of persecution under article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court…