The Secretary for Legal Affairs at the Organization of American States (OAS), Jean Michael Arrighi, announced today that the process of invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter against the Maduro government in light of its repeated and continued human rights abuses is already underway. The unprecedented process could result in the suspension of Venezuela from the OAS.
Arrighi told EFE that the process of invoking the Charter began last week at a special meeting of the OAS where secretary general Luis Almagro presented a report outlining the Maduro government’s human rights abuses. Arrighi explained:
The process of applying the Charter has been underway since the moment that the secretary general presented his report to the council [on June 23]. The process began when the day’s order of business was accepted and the meeting took place. That meeting took place in accordance with the Charter.
Article 20 of the Charter allows for the OAS to take diplomatic action – including but not necessarily suspending a member state – if the council finds that there has been a “break in the constitutional order that gravely affects [the country’s] democratic order”.
Arrighi is one of the drafters of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and has been the OAS’ head legal expert for the past 23 years.
On the Venezuelan government’s repeated assertions that Almagro and the OAS are pawns in an international conspiracy to overthrow the Maduro government, Arrighi said:
The secretary general is elected by [the member] countries to carry out the norms that they themselves dictate. Article 20 wasn’t drafted by Martians; it was drafted by the member states.
Arrighi also said that Almagro is absolutely within his right to act in defense of democracy and human rights in any member state.
On the confusion over whether or not the Charter was in play to begin with, Arrighi blamed semantics:
The word “activate” is more fitting for a bomb than for a judicial mechanism. I’d rather talk about “initiate”, “apply”. We need to get the idea out of people’s heads that this [is like] activating a grenade, and then there’s an explosion.
The next step in the process is for the OAS’ 34 member states to decide if there should be another meeting on the crisis in Venezuela. At this meeting, the OAS would discuss concrete diplomatic measures to take on the crisis.
Cabello Makes Suggestions for Next Step in Referendum
PSUV vice-president and National Assembly deputy Diosdado Cabello made some suggestions on what the next step of the recall referendum effort against Maduro should look like on his weekly television show Con El Mazo Dando. For the next step of the process, the opposition must collect signatures from 20% of registered voters.
Cabello suggested that the opposition should only be given one day to collect approximately 4 million signatures, even though it was given one month to collect just 197,000. Cabello explained:
Nicolas Maduro was elected in, what? One day? Then, how much time should you have to collect the signatures to recall someone who was elected in one day? One day. If it’s equal, it’s not cheating.
On the number of machines the opposition should use to collect the signatures, Cabello said:
If they are going to collect signatures from 20% [of electors], they should have 20% of the machines. If it’s equal, it’s not cheating. We’re not going to make this easy for you, escualidos [a derogatory term for opposition supporter]. I swear to you that we won’t. And we will do whatever it takes.
On paper, Cabello is not at all involved in setting the regulations for the recall referendum process, since that task falls squarely within the power of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE).
Barreiros: Other Countries Wish for Venezuela’s Human Rights Record
Public Defender Susana Barreiros gave a rare television appearance on the state-owned VTV television network, where she spoke highly of Venezuela’s human rights record. Barreiros said that Venezuela is one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to human rights, and that:
Venezuela is one of the countries which guarantees human rights the most. We’re shocked by some of the opinions given [on Venezuela’s human rights] by some of our partners [in Latin America]. They wish they could make the advances we’ve made in human rights. This is something that fills me with pride.
Barreiros rose to fame last year after she sentenced opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to fourteen years in prison at the end of a trial that was universally decried by human rights organizations – including the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights – as a farce.
One of the two state prosecutors on the case – Franklin Nieves – defected from Venezuela shortly after the end of Lopez’s trial, and has since made numerous comments to the international media about how virtually every aspect of the Lopez trial was falsified in order to secure a conviction.
Shortly after the end of the Lopez trial, Barreiros was promoted to the office of Public Defender.
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