The Maduro regime conducted the its third round of prisoner releases this month, claiming to have transferred 43 political prisoners out of jails throughout the day. However, Alfredo Romero–the head of the human rights NGO Foro Penal Venezolano (Venezuelan Penal Forum) [FPV]–said that as of 6:40 PM local time, only 15 political prisoners had been released from prison.
It is not clear at this time if the remaining 28 prisoners have yet to be released, or if the FPV is not counting them in their official tally since it does not consider them to be political prisoners.
The releases were announced by attorney general Tarek William Saab during a televised address this morning, after rumours began to circulate on Twitter last night that the regime was preparing the move. Saab said that the releases were made possible by “a visible and notorious” effort by the Maduro government.
During his address, Saab bragged that no other government in Venezuela’s “republican history” had freed as many political prisoners as Maduro has.
Summarizing the releases, Saab said;
I see this as an exceptional event. It was an event that was shared by Venezuelan institutions, and this is adding to a practice [to ensure that] there will be no more bloodshed in the country.
The Maduro regime’s brutal repression of political dissent in the country has resulted in the arrest of thousands of people, hundreds of whom have spent time behind bars as political prisoners. Starting on June 1 of this year, the Maduro regime began releasing some of those prisoners into other types of custody, including house arrest, in what it calls a goodwill gesture towards the opposition.
Regime critics have pointed out that not all of the individuals whom the regime has released since June are political prisoners, while others have said that those released should never have been in prison to begin with.
The Maduro regime has yet to release a formal list of all of the individuals that it claims to have released today, and regime officials have at different times said that the list totals 40 or 43 individuals.
Supreme Court Clarifies Freed Individuals Are Not Free
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s supreme court, clarified through its Twitter account this afternoon that the individuals who were freed from prison today are not technically free: rather, they are subject to legal restrictions “that substitute incarceration”.
Among the measures that the released prisoners are now subjected to are orders to appear before a judge every 30 days, as well as prohibitions from leaving the country, attending protests and publishing information on social media.
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