Caracas, Venezuela April 16, 2013
The Coalition of Human Rights Organizations in Venezuela – FORO POR LA VIDA – within the framework of the right to political participation recognized by the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the international treaties subscribed by the State, makes the following statement with regard to the latest events related to the presidential election on April 14, where the Venezuelan people massively exercise their right to vote, which reaffirms their democratic conviction.
For the last few years, Venezuelan human rights organizations have expressed their concerns about the unbalanced electoral campaigns, from the use of national resources in favor of one of the political options. In this opportunity, given the small margin of difference between the two main candidates and reports of more than 3,000 incidents from political stakeholders, a reasonable doubt exist about the consistency in the results that allow and justify activating the mechanisms provided by national legislation for their detailed review, without interpreting this as a threat to democracy or popular will. On the contrary, this is a legal and civic way to resolve the controversy, especially considering that both candidates immediately accepted, voluntarily, this said revision on the night of April 14.
It is important to remember that there are legal precedents on Venezuela that establish that the proclamation of a candidate does not close the legal channels to activate the review mechanisms of the results of the electoral process.
We welcome the offer made by the Secretary General of the OAS, who offered the electoral experts team from the Organization. Technical assistance is a valid and appropriate mechanism in the realm of international relations that cannot be belittled a priori under the contended argument of foreign interference, taking into consideration the Inter-American Democratic Charter considers “that one of the purposes of the OAS is to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of non-intervention”.
We repudiate the aggressions against people that were participating in the citizens’ audits, which is possible to do “once there are minimum security conditions to carry it out with absolute normality” (Article 440 of Law on Electoral Processes). The citizens’ audit is an integral part of the electoral process and its obstruction only contributes to create doubts about the integrity of the results.
We express our concerns about the vandalism and attacks against the Red de Observación Electoral de la Asamblea de Educación (network of electoral observers), its staff and equipment on April 14 while they were doing verification, as an organization accredited by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) (National Electoral Council).
1. Call upon civil society to canalize their inputs to document and formalize their grievances and to follow the process to verify the results in a civilized way.
2. We ask the National Electoral Council (CNE) to receive the petitions that are formalized and to follow the process in the law and to accept the OAS’ offer of technical assistance. At the same time we ask the CNE to investigate the different irregularities included above, that blurred the electoral process and that the responsible people receive the sanctions included in the Venezuelan legal framework.
3. We exhort the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, and in particular those responsible for the Plan República, to preserve the electoral material, as per the responsibilities imposed by articles 167 and 169 of the Law on Electoral Processes.
4. We invite the political parties and the national authorities to establish a dialogue within a framework of mutual respect, as the only democratic mechanism that will allow a peaceful exit to the current circumstances in Venezuela.
5. We remind all that peaceful protest is a human right included in the Venezuelan Constitution and in international human rights treaties. As such, we exhort the Venezuelan State to guarantee the free exercise of this right and to protect all people who exercise it.
6. We ask the Public Ministry and the Ombudsman to opportunely and independently prevent and investigate any type of human rights violation and to the security forces to abstain using force in a way that is abusive and disproportionate as it is intended in the law. This includes the no intervention of the military, the use of firearms, violence and the use of tear gas or prohibited toxic substances to control the public order.
The organizations that are part of the Foro por la Vida coalition call upon the Venezuelan State to respect the human rights enshrined in the Constitution to guarantee and to contribute to a climate of peace, dialogue, understanding and acknowledgement among the different sectors in the country.