Venezuela´s withdrawal from the Inter-American Court would undermine the protection of human rights in the country

Statement by International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas

July 31, 2012

The undersigned organizations, members of the International Coalition of Organizations for Human Rights in the Americas express their profound concern regarding the recent declarations of Hugo Chávez Frías and Nicolás Maduro, President and Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, respectively. The declarations relate to the definitive withdrawal of the Venezuelan State from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

A measure of this kind would have serious repercussions for the protection of the human rights of Venezuelan citizens, who would not have recourse to justice provided by the Inter-American System’s protection bodies, in instances in which their rights were not effectively protected in their own country.

Both the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission are autonomous and independent bodies that, while exercising their functions, have contributed to the establishment of standards which protect human rights in our region. These organizations have played a fundamental role in the protection of the rights of thousands of victims and citizens on our continent.

Since their creation, the Inter-American Court and Commission have analyzed cases of grave human rights violations and have contributed significantly to the consolidation of democratic institutions, the adoption of legislation which promotes equality and guarantees the protection of human rights, as well as to the struggle against impunity. These bodies have focused particularly on the protection of people or groups in vulnerable situations, the struggle for the eradication of both gender-based violence and discrimination due to sexual orientation, the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, and the prohibition of both torture as well as the practice of forced disappearance. Moreover, these two bodies have made a considerable contribution to the promotion, development and enhanced protection of economic, social and cultural rights.

The undersigned organizations consider that the Inter-American System fulfills an essential role in our region. Consequently, the potential withdrawal of Venezuela would severely undermine the protection of human rights in this country, and would eliminate the last recourse to justice available to those who have suffered human rights abuses. Venezuela´s announced departure from the Inter-American Court is preceded by its failure to comply with sentences and protection measures ordered by said tribunal. The undersigned organizations urge the Venezuelan government to ratify their commitment to the protection of human rights through the effective compliance with the decisions issued by the Inter-American Court, and to reconsider their claims of withdrawal from the Inter-American System.

Finally, we would like to address the member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) to reiterate our concerns regarding the risk that the withdrawal of Venezuela from one of the bodies of the Inter-American System would represent for the region, Venezuelan citizens, and above all its victims of human rights violations. As such, we call on the members states of the OAS to reaffirm their commitment to the universality of the Inter-American System by taking all necessary actions to ensure that the Venezuelan State reconsiders its decision to remove itself from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.



Amnesty International (AI)

Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos (FIDH)

Peace Brigades International (PBI)



Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)

Lawyers Without Borders- Canada




Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC)

Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género (ELA)



Oficina Jurídica Para la Mujer

Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer  (CLADEM )



Conectas Direitos Humanos



Corporación Humanas - Chile



Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (CCJ)

Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES)

Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR)

Corporación para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos – Reiniciar

Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos Humanos (GIDH)


Costa Rica:

Defensa de Niñas y Niños – Internacional, DNI Costa Rica



Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo .J.” (CSMM)

Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU)


United States:

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)



Asociación Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM)

Fundación para la Justicia y la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (FUNJUDEH)

Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG)

Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA)



Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Prodh)

Grupo de Mujeres de San Cristóbal Las Casas, A.C. (COLEM)



Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)



Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY)



Asociación Nacional de Centros (ANC)

Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH)

CEDAL - Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo

Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos - Perú EQUIDAD

Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH)

Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo y la Paz (FEDEPAZ)



Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR)



Acción Solidaria en VIH/Sida

Civilis Derechos Humanos

Comisión de Justicia y Paz de la Conferencia Episcopal de Venezuela

Comité de Familiares de Víctimas de los Sucesos de Febrero-Marzo de 1989 (COFAVIC)

Espacio Público

Justicia y Pas Los Teques

Observatorio Venezonalano de Prisiones (OVP)

Oficina de Derechos Humanos de la Diócesis de Los Teques

Programa Venezolano de Educación – Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)

Sinergia, Asociación Venezolana de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil

Transparencia – Venezuela

Una Ventana a la Libertad

Vicaría de Derechos Humanos de Caracas