Law Society submits UN report on lack of judicial independence in Venezuela

We've submitted a universal periodic review (UPR) report on Venezuela to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, working with local partners Centro de Justicia y Paz (CEPAZ) and Acceso a la Justicia, with pro bono assistance from Clifford Chance US LLP.
Flag of Venezuela

Key statistics on lack of judicial independence in Venezuela

  • In 2019, approximately 85.3% of judges in Venezuela did not have a permanent position – with one judge having held 29 judicial positions in 14 years
  • In 2020, 881 provisional judges were appointed and 91 judges were removed from office by the Judicial Commission
  • Since its creation, only seven of the 84 judges appointed to the Supreme Court have served the full 12-year term established in the Venezuelan Constitution, with many retiring involuntarily under pressure from the executive
  • More than 50% of judges in Venezuela, and at least 40% of criminal law judges, are members of the president’s political party and have directly or indirectly expressed their support for the government. Some have also been state contractors, either during their position as a judge or in the past
  • Since 6 December 2015, when opposition parties won the majority of the National Assembly for the first time in 17 years, the Supreme Court has also issued approximately 145 decisions to prevent the National Assembly from functioning
  • Between 2000 and 2020, the Supreme Court has issued more than 30 judgments that directly interfere with the independence of legal professional associations
  • Each of the 33 judges of the Supreme Court, constitutionally appointed by the National Assembly in 2017, were persecuted by state agents

Our recommendations

  • Ensure that all legislation and regulations (and its application) regarding judicial appointments, security of tenure, and disciplinary proceedings against judges are in line with international standards on judicial independence
  • Cease all unjustified and illegal arrests, detentions, prosecutions and other actions taken against members of the legal profession and human rights defenders that prevent them from carrying out their legitimate activities
  • Revoke all emergency decrees, and those that extend them
  • Carry out the necessary investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations established in the reports of the UN fact-finding mission to Venezuela. These investigations must be independent, transparent, expedient, and follow guarantees of due process

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