Politically motivated charges were brought against those who opposed government policies. Human rights defenders were attacked and intimidated. Human rights violations by the security forces were reported. Progress in combating violence against women was slow.
In the September legislative elections the ruling party lost its two-thirds majority.
Demonstrations were held throughout the year, in most cases sparked by discontent over labour rights and public services.
In January, the government took six television channels off air amid concerns that the measure was aimed at curtailing the right to freedom of expression. Five were able to resume transmission. An appeal by the sixth, RCTV International, remained pending at the end of the year.Top of page
Human rights defenders continued to be attacked and threatened. Those responsible were not brought to justice.
Those critical of the government were prosecuted on politically motivated charges in what appeared to be an attempt to silence them.
Gender-based crime remained a concern. In October, the attorney general announced the establishment of more prosecutors’ offices to deal with these crimes. Between January and August, the Public Prosecutor’s Office received more than 65,000 complaints of gender-based violence.
Public security remained a major concern and, according to latest figures released by the Institute of National Statistics, more than 21,000 people were killed nationwide in 2009. There were allegations of police involvement in killings and enforced disappearances.
Judge María Lourdes Afiuni Mora remained in prison awaiting trial. She had been detained in December 2009 on unsubstantiated charges. Three UN Special Rapporteurs described her arrest as a blow to the independence of judges and lawyers in Venezuela, and demanded her immediate and unconditional release. Judge Afiuni was threatened by inmates, some of whom had been convicted following trials over which she presided. She also reported that she was denied adequate medical treatment.Top of page
In November the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed concern at the number of deaths and injuries in Venezuelan prisons. Between January and November, 352 deaths and 736 injuries were recorded, according to national human rights organizations.
The Commission also reiterated concerns over prison conditions following a riot in March in Yare I prison in Caracas which resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, and reports received in November about violence between inmates in Uribana prison, Lara State.Top of page