UN experts* warned on Friday that convicting unionists and labor leaders on terrorism charges is a “chronic abuse” of Venezuela’s anti-terrorism laws, used against those defending labor rights.
The experts expressed deep concern over the August 1, 2023, sentence that convicted six Venezuelan unionists under the measures of the Organic Law Against Organized Crime and Terrorism Financing.
In a communication to the Venezuelan government in September 2022, the experts highlighted the lack of due process protection, lack of access to legal defense for activists and union leaders, the inadequacy of evidence against the charges, and the fact that key informants did not testify in the trial.
Furthermore, they were deeply concerned that all unionists were sentenced to exceptionally long prison terms, which they saw as “an attempt to remove civil society actors and damage the civic space in Venezuela.”
According to the experts, these convictions represent a growing and alarming trend in the country of persecuting and harassing those who express dissenting opinions against the government or defend human rights.
“The Venezuelan authorities are using the fight against terrorism to exclude and undermine legitimate human rights work,” they stated, urging Venezuelan courts to urgently review the convictions according to international human rights standards.
The neighborhood of Al Gahmalyya in the city of Taiz, Yemen, has suffered severe damages as a result of years of conflict.