IACHR DEPLORES EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS AGAINST A FAMILY IN VENEZUELA
Washington, D.C., October 8, 2010 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) deplores the fact that members of the Barrios family in Venezuela have been executed extrajudicially without the State having adopted measures to protect the life of these persons or to investigate these crimes.
Since 1998, six members of the Barrios family have been murdered, and in at least five of the cases these were extrajudicial executions perpetrated by police agents of Aragua State. The Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights have followed this situation through all available mechanisms (requests for information, precautionary and provisional measures, Commission reports on admissibility and on the merits, and submission of an application to the Inter-American Court), but the Venezuelan State has not adopted the necessary measures to protect the life of the members of this family, who continue to be targets of assassination, detention, raids, threats and harassment. Moreover, the State has not ordered an effective investigation of these crimes, which remain in impunity.
On September 1, 2010, Wilmer José Flores Barrios, aproximately 19 years old, was killed. Between 1998 and 2009, his brother Rigoberto, then 15 years old; his cousin Oscar, 22; and his uncles Benito, Narciso and Luis were also killed. Benito and Narciso Barrios were executed extrajudicially by Aragua police officers, and the IACHR determined in the processing of this case that there is enough evidence to conclude that Luis, Rigoberto and Oscar Barrios were killed in the same way.
The Inter-American Commission requested that the State of Venezuela adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and integrity of the members of the Barrios family, but the State never implemented measures to protect them. Similarly, the protection measures ordered by the Inter-American Court in November 2004 were never implemented either; another three members of the family were killed since these have been in force.
In its Resolution dated February 4, 2010, the Inter-American Court refered to “the State’s failure to comply with the measures ordered by the Court” and described the situation as one “of extreme gravity and urgency that puts in grave risk the life and integrity” of the members of the family.
The Inter-American Commission views as extremely serious that the State of Venezuela had not adopted effective protection measures even though since at least 2004 it has had full knowledge of the extrajudicial executions that had begun to be carried out against members of the Barrios family.
The IACHR recalls that it is the obligation of the State to investigate on its own initiative events of this nature and to punish those responsible. Moreover, the IACHR once again urges the Venezuelan State to immediately adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity and security of the surviving members of this family.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission is mandated to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.
Press Release 76/10: IACHR Takes Cases Involving Venezuela to the Inter-American Court. August 3, 2010.
Press Release 81/09: IACHR Condemns Killing in Venezuela of Oscar Barrios, beneficiary of Provisional Measures of the Inter-American Court. December 4, 2009.
Provisional Measures, Eloisa Barrios et al, Venezuela. Order of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights dated November 23, 2004; Order dated June 29, 2005; Order dated September 22, 2005; Order of the Court’s President dated December 18, 2005; Order of the Court dated February 4, 2010.
Precautionary Measure granted on June 22, 2004 by the IACHR in favor of Eloisa Barrios and her family, Venezuela
Admissibility Report 23/05, Narciso Barrios et al, Venezuela
Admissibility Report 01/09, Benito Antonio Barrios et al, Venezuela
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