Venezuela: Restrictions to civic space continue unabated as government defies commitments

Statement at the 50th Session of the Human Rights Council 

Adoption of the UPR report of Venezuela

Delivered by Carlos Correa, Espacio Público

Thank you, Mr President. 

Over the past five years, Venezuela promoted unjustified restrictions on civic space, including the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Of the 40 recommendations received in 2016, it partially implemented 7.  

Space for civil society has been repressed. Despite accepting recommendations to guarantee freedom of expression online, restrictions continue. Venezuela committed to ensure the work of journalists, human rights defenders and humanitarian workers, but judicial persecution remains common. Authorities adopt a disqualifying discourse that seeks to justify attacks on the exercise of freedom of association and expression. 

Today at least 45 news portals are blocked in Venezuela. Between January and April of this year 2022, 43 journalists were victims of illegitimate restrictions to do their work. While this UPR process was ongoing, a bill was announced to control international cooperation funds. In the last year, at least 8 human rights defenders have been detained and criminal proceedings are ongoing against them. 

We regret that Venezuela accepted 27 of the 53 recommendations it received on civic space during this third cycle.  

Mr President, Espacio Público and CIVICUS call on the Government of Venezuela to take concrete steps to address these concerns, including by repealing undue legal restrictions on civil society and the press, reinstating media outlets unwarrantedly closed, ceasing censorship practices, and by releasing all those detained for defending human rights and expressing themselves. 

Thank you very much.  

 Civic space in Venezuela is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor