1. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Venezuela
(CCPR/C/37/Add.14) at its 1197th to 1199th meetings, held on 2
and 3 November 1992, and adopted* the following comments:
2. The Committee commends the State party on its report, drawn
up in accordance with the Committee's guidelines (CCPR/C/20/Rev.1).
The report contains detailed information on the law, although
fuller information could have been provided on practice relating
to the implementation of the Covenant. Furthermore, it highlights
factors and difficulties which impeded the implementation of the
Covenant in Venezuela during the period covered by the report.
The Committee does, however, regret that the report was submitted
over seven years behind schedule.
3. The Committee also thanks the State party for the core document
(HRI/CORE/1/Add.3), drawn up in accordance with the consolidated
guidelines for the initial part of States party reports to be
submitted under the various international human rights instruments
4. The Committee pays tribute to the competence of the delegation
from the State party, which endeavoured to reply frankly and fully
to the many questions raised by Committee members.
B. Positive aspects
5. The Committee welcomes the fact that democracy is thriving
in Venezuela, and notes with satisfaction the adoption by or submission
to Parliament in recent years of a great many laws and regulations
dealing with human rights. These include important texts dealing
with, for example, the protection of
indigenous peoples and equality between men and women. The Committee
takes note of provisions granting international human rights instruments
precedence over Venezuelan domestic law.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of
6. The Committee notes that a number of states of emergency,
resulting from riots caused by economic reforms, have been declared
in the past in Venezuela, the most recent extending from 4 February
to 30 April 1992. Emergency measures notified to the Secretary-General
have suspended a number of the safeguards called for in the Covenant,
and impeded the full implementation of the Covenant during those
periods. The Committee also notes that outdated legislation which
is still in force despite being severely criticized in Venezuela
is one of the factors impeding the full and complete implementation
of the Covenant.
D. Principal subjects of concern
7. The Committee expresses concern at the serious human rights
violations, such as enforced and involuntary disappearances, torture
and extrajudicial executions, that were committed during the attempted
coup d'état in 1989 and early 1992. It is disturbed by
the failure t0 take sufficient steps to punish those guilty of
such violations, and concerned that members of the police force
and the security services and military personnel are likely to
go unpunished as a result. It notes that judicial investigations
into such cases have clearly been too slow, especially where members
of the armed forces are concerned.
8. The Committee is also concerned that custody can last as long
as 16 days and emphasizes that it is precisely during such periods
that accused persons are most vulnerable, in particular to acts
of torture or ill-treatment. The possibility that civilians may
be tried by military courts is likewise a matter of concern to
9. The Committee also expresses its concern over the application
of article 35 of the Aliens Act, which does not provide for any
possibility of appeal, and over conditions of detention in places
E. Suggestions and recommendations
10. The Committee recommends the State party to take whatever
steps are necessary to combat all human rights violations, in
particular those that may have been committed during the various
states of emergency. The State party should see to it that all
members of the armed forces or the police who have committed violations
of the rights guaranteed by the Covenant are tried and punished
by civilian courts. The duration of custody should be reviewed,
and an accused person should be allowed to undergo a medical examination
upon request and to have access to his lawyer from the time of
arrest. Steps should also be taken to make the remedy of amparo
effective, and to improve conditions in places of detention substantially.
The list of rights that cannot be derogated from, even during
states of emergency, should be extended to include all the rights
covered by article 4, paragraph 2 of the Covenant. Further measures
should be taken pursuant to article 27 of the Covenant, in order
to guarantee indigenous peoples their own cultural life and the
use of their own language. Lastly, a special effort should be
made to support the activities of the Human Rights Office. The
Committee also recommends that training courses should be organized
for members of the police, the armed forces and the security forces
as well as for other law enforcement officials, so as to better
acquaint them with basic human rights principles and norms.
* At its 1203rd meeting (forty-sixth session), on 5 November 1992.