Human Rights Watch, the international human rights advocacy NGO, has once again spoken on the situation in Venezuela, this time through its Latin American director, Jose Miguel Vivanco.
Vivanco met with Carlos Vecchio, the Voluntad Popular political coordinator, in Washington, D.C. today. During the meeting, Vecchio denounced the conditions in which Leopoldo Lopez and other political prisoners are being held in the Ramo Verde military prison. At the end of the meeting, Vivanco made a statement, saying:
The Maduro government should pay attention to these calls [from the U.N. and human rights organizations] and immediately release all Venezuelans currently detained arbitrarily and subject to serious violations to the right to due process.
Maduro Decrees 46 New Laws
The Gaceta Oficial 40.543 dated November 18, 2014 contains a list of 46 new laws decreed by Maduro. The laws are special because – unlike all other laws, which must pass through the National Assembly – these were passed by way of the ley habilitante, a power granted to Maduro by the National Assembly which allows him to create and pass any law he wants.
While many of the laws involve resource and environmental issues (including mines, agriculture and fisheries), several of the laws appear to have more serious implications for Venezuelan society. Just yesterday, Maduro announced that he would sign into law the creation of the Policia Nacional Anticorrupcion [National Anti-Corruption Police] and a new anti-terrorism framework “to protect the peace and the country”.
Maduro did not provide any details regarding the nature or scope of the the new security bodies. The Gaceta Official 40.543 can be read here in Spanish.
Group Wants Habilitante Laws Annulled
The Asociacion Civil Control Ciudadano (Citizen Control Civil Association) has filed an urgent motion before the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, the nation’s top court, seeking an annulment on all of the laws passed through the habilitante powers granted to President Maduro. According to the group, the laws:
… establish a permanent state of exception in Venezuela through the framework of the Constitution.
The organization argues that the powers given to Maduro to pass these laws without any kind of oversight are far beyond the powers granted a president. The organization released a statement (found here), part of which reads (emphasis mine):
The President of the Republic, Nicolas Maduro, through the concept of economic war has decided to put into action a permanent state of emergency, without adhering to the formalities laid out in Section VIII of the Magna Carta relating to “The Protection of the Constitution”.
With the approval of laws by way of the habilitante, constitutional guarantees are restricted in a way that not even a state of war can suspend in accordance with article 339 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela…