As of 1 May 2021, all Venezuelan civil society organizations must comply with abusive registration measures or face criminal prosecution, according to new regulations under counterterrorism and organized crime legislation announced by the government on 30 March. These measures include disclosing details on their beneficiaries, such as victims of human rights violations and humanitarian relief recipients, as well as information on their funding, staff, and governance. Such measures violate the rights to association, privacy, and presumption of innocence, and puts civil society organizations and their beneficiaries at grave risk of criminalization and reprisals. We demand immediate repeal of regulation no. 001-2021.
Please ask the President to:
- Immediately repeal this regulation and to stop all the harassment, penal prosecution, and/or censorship of all civil society organizations.
President Nicolás Maduro Palacio de Miraflores
Av. Norte 10, Caracas 1012, Distrito Capital
Tel: 011 58 212-8063111
Salutation: Dear Nicolas Maduro,
His Excellency Orlando José Viera Blanco
Ambassador for Venezuela
32 Range Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 8J4
Phone: 613 235 5151
Fax: 613 235 3205
Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
The new Administrative Regulation No. 001-2021 for the “Unified Registry of Obligated Subjects before the National Office Against Organized Crime and Terrorism Financing, of the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace”, was published in Official Gazette No. 42.098 of 30 March 2021. It requires the registration of all natural or legal persons of a nonfinancial nature before 1 May 2021, emphasizing the participation of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for the surveillance and supervision of their work. The regulation would impose strict controls that include handing over constitutive documentation, assembly notes, lists of members and personnel, lists of donors, registration of financial movements, and lists of all their beneficiaries and other organizations with which they work. The regulation operates under the presumption of committing crimes such as terrorism or that NGOs are vulnerable to these crimes because they are not subject to the supervision of a specific public body or regulated by a special law.
This measure is part of the systematic criminalization patterns against civil society organizations, which has intensified during the last year. Without a doubt, this ruling represents the most serious event that we have registered so far, including the explicit purpose of closing civic space through a siege of severe restrictions on civil society’s ability to continue defending rights and providing due assistance and protection to the Venezuelan population.
Amnesty International and other 662 organizations have called for the regulation to be repealed, bearing in mind that in the last few years any constitutional avenue to pursue its annulment within local courts is futile, due to the lack of judicial independence and the tight control the executive branch has over the judiciary.
Nicolás Maduro government has continually harassed, prosecuted and censored activists and civil society organizations working to protect the rights of Venezuelans amidst a humanitarian complex crisis and a deep human rights crisis that is making Venezuelans fled in unprecedented numbers in search of safety and a dignified future abroad. By December 2020, over 6 million had fled the country.
Last year, a report from the independent international fact-finding mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela documented hundreds of cases of extrajudicial executions; enforced disappearances; arbitrary detentions; and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment committed in the country since 2014, and concluded that these grave human rights violations may amount to crimes against humanity.
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