ANNUAL REPORT OF THE IACHR 2007
221. The Commission prepared this section of Chapter IV of the Annual Report pursuant to Article 57.1.h of its Rules of Procedure. Its analysis is based on the information compiled during its hearings and information available from other public sources. Pursuant to the aforementioned article, on November 21, 2007, the IACHR sent the State a copy of the draft of this section of its 2007 Annual Report and requested that the State forward its observations within one month. On December 21, 2007, the Commission received the State’s observations and comments, the pertinent parts of which were introduced into the present report.
222. In its Annual Report for 1997, the Commission set out the five criteria it uses to identify the member states of the OAS whose human rights practices merit special attention. In 2007, the Commission examined the situation of human rights in Venezuela and decided that the hostile environment toward political dissent, the increasing litigiousness of social protest and the accusations against and harassment of nongovernmental organizations or human rights defenders are taking a serious toll on the enjoyment of the rights protected under the American Convention, to which Venezuela has been party since 1977. The Commission therefore considers that the Venezuelan situation fits the fifth criterion of the five mentioned earlier, which concerns
temporary or structural situations that may appear in member states confronted, for various reasons, with situations that seriously affect the enjoyment of fundamental rights enshrined in the American Convention or the American Declaration. This criterion includes, for example: grave situations of violations that prevent the proper application of the rule of law; serious institutional crises; processes of institutional change which have negative consequences for human rights; or grave omissions in the adoption of the provisions necessary for the effective exercise of fundamental rights.
223. Therefore, in this chapter the Commission will devote particular attention to the situations referenced in paragraph 2 and will examine issues related to the administration of justice, extrajudicial executions, citizen security, freedom of expression and the harsh conditions endured by persons deprived of their liberty.
224. The Commission observed with particular attention the constitutional reform process that began on August 15, 2007, when the President of the Republic, Hugo Chávez Frías, introduced a draft. The National Assembly approved the draft, with changes, on the third round of discussion, to be put to a referendum in keeping with Article 344 of the Venezuelan Constitution. This constitutional reform proposal was rejected through a consultative referendum carried out on December 2, 2007. The IACHR is gratified at the massive, peaceful citizen participation in that referendum. Before the consultative referendum, the Commission had received numerous expressions of concern from various sectors of civil society that were troubled by some of the articles that had been approved by the National Assembly. These will be summarized in the some sections of this chapter.
225. The Commission welcomes the information provided by the Venezuelan State on achievements in the area of economic, cultural, and social rights. The statistics provided include a significant drop in the poverty rate over the past five years (from 29.8% in 2003 to 9.7% in 2007). Similar improvements were reported in unemployment rates (from 20.7% in 2003 to 8.3% in 2007). The population’s access to drinking water and the school enrollment rate also showed improvements. As for indicators reflecting the achievements of missions, the Robinson Mission, for example, was reported to have taught 1,539,786 people to read as of July 2007.
226. Finally, during 2007 the Commission learned that the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the courts were enforcing the Law on Protection of Victims, Witnesses and Other Parties to Court Proceedings. The Commission welcomes this State initiative as this program could become a significant means of protection in preventing future violations of the human rights of persons whose lives and safety are at risk.
II. PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS
227. During 2007, the Commission dedicated much of its time in trying to materialize a visit to Venezuela. Those efforts have been frustrated by the State’s silence on the question of a firm date for the visit. Since the Commission’s in loco visit to Venezuela in 2002, the Venezuelan Government has said that it would like the Commission to conduct follow-up activities, or arrange a visit by the Rapporteur for Venezuelan affairs, Dr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, to get a firsthand look at the changes that the State has introduced through the Missions and the Prison System Humanization Plan, among other initiatives. Thus far, however, the Commission has seen no progress on these fronts.
228. Furthermore, in early 2007, the Rapporteur for Venezuelan Affairs drew up a tentative agenda for a visit to Venezuela, which was discussed with the Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the Organization of American States (OAS). In addition, several meetings between the President of the Commission and other members of the Commission with the same Ambassador were held in order discuss the achievement of a visit to the country. The President of the IACHR and the Rapporteur for Venezuela met the Minister and Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs in order to directly discuss the visit, having sent a letter to the Government proposing specific dates for December 2007 to which the Government of Venezuela has not yet responded.
229. In its reply on this chapter, the State maintained that “the seven mandates specifically issued by the States when they signed the American Convention did not include that of conducting on-site visits or on-site observation in any of the countries belonging to the inter-American system. That power was added later, under the Statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to the other powers already set forth in Article 44 of the Convention. Moreover, under the Commission’s Statute, the State has the power to invite on-site observation, but the Commission cannot invite itself to visit a particular country.”
230. The Commission points out that the Venezuelan Government’s attitude stands in sharp contrast to that of the majority of the OAS member states, which welcome and facilitate the Commission’s visits to their countries. The claims that Venezuela has been making for over five years, conveying its interest in a visit by the Commission and/or thematic rapporteurs, seem disingenuous. The fact that the visit has never materialized has made it difficult for the Commission to discharge the mandate that the States entrusted to it within the framework of the authorities and functions it is given both by the American Convention and its Statutes, especially those of promoting the observance and defense of human rights by firsthand, in situ knowledge of the various problems and programs related to human rights in Venezuela. Not having been afforded the opportunity to visit the country, it will be that much more difficult for the Commission to develop a close dialogue with State authorities and Venezuelan society.
231. The IACHR reiterates its interest in conducting a visit to Venezuela and its offer to cooperate with the Government of Venezuela and with the whole of Venezuelan society, to help strengthen the defense and protection of human rights in an environment of democracy and institutional legality.
232. Throughout 2007, the Commission continued to receive information regarding the situation of human rights defenders in Venezuela. The following are some of the more alarming developments, which will be described in detail later in this report: i) the increasing number of threats and attempts on the life and physical well-being of human rights defenders; and ii) other obstacles human defenders face, such as public discrediting by officials of the State, accusations to the effect that they are receiving funds from abroad, and the difficulty they have when attempting to get access to information.
A. Threats and attempts on the life and physical well-being of
233. The Commission learned that over the course of 2007 a number of human rights defenders in Venezuela continued to be the target of attacks and threats on their life and physical well-being. Among the cases reported to the Commission was that of Mr. José Luís Urbano, President of the Asociación Civil Pro-Defensa del Derecho a la Educación [Civil Association for the Protection of the Right to Education], who on February 10, 2007 was allegedly attacked by someone wielding a firearm. The attack is said to have occurred in the La Ponderosa district of the state of Anzoátegui. Information was also received concerning an alleged assault on Mrs. Sara Mier y Terán, coordinator of the NGO Vida, Paz y Libertad. The assault, which purportedly occurred on January 27, 2007, was allegedly the work of Aragua police officers. The Commission also received information on a complaint that Mr. Luís Rafael Ugas, President of the Fundación para las Garantías, Prevención y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos [Foundation for the Guarantees, Protection and Defense of Human Rights] filed on April 25, 2007, concerning an alleged abduction followed by torture.
234. The Commission also received reports of continued threats. In one case, the Commission was informed that Mr. Alcides Magallanes, coordinator of the Fundación de los Derechos Humanos de Anzoátegui [Anzoátegui Human Rights Foundation], who had publicly complained about the extrajudicial executions in that state, allegedly received death threats from an officer in the Bolívar Municipal Police. Also, the director of the Observatorio de Prisiones de Venezuela [Venezuelan Prison Monitoring Group], Mr. Humberto Prado, received threatening phone calls in May of 2007 after an interview with him appeared in the newspaper “El Mundo” where he described conditions in a Barinas prison.
235. The Commission is also concerned by the increasing number of union leaders and persons dedicated to the defense of labor rights who have been the victims of attempts on their life and physical well-being. The Commission was told that in 2004 nine acts of violence allegedly occurred; in 2005, 18 assaults were recorded, whose victims were mainly people in the oil sector and construction sector; in 2006, 49 assaults were recorded; and by the end of May 2007, 27 assaults had already been registered, which means that the numbers continue to increase.
236. According to information reported to the Commission, as of September 2007, some civil society organizations calculated that at least 29 union leaders had been killed. The following are some of the cases singled out by name in the documentation submitted to the Commission: Héctor Francisco Jaramillo, Secretary of Professionals and Technicians in the Sutrabolívar labor confederation; Alexis García, member of the Bolívar Disciplinary Tribunal; Nibardo Antonio Gómez Morales, a leader of a construction workers union; Alexander Irigoyen Villaroel, a member of a petroleum industry union; Robert José Figuera, a member of a petroleum industry cooperative; Héctor Francisco Jaramillo, Secretary of Professionals and Technicians enrolled in the Sutrabolívar labor confederation; Neomar Rodríguez, a SutraBolívar delegate; Robert Rivero, a SutraBolívar delegate; Darwin LaRosa, director of the group of unemployed persons fighting for the right to work; Douglas Ulacio Rojas, a leader of the unemployed petroleum industry workers group; Rochard José Rivas Rodríguez, a member of the Anzoátegui Construction, Wood and Related Materials Workers Union; Yesmer Enrique Gil, a union member from San Félix; Néstor Ramón Cequea Jiménez, leader of a construction workers union in Macapaima province in the state of Anzoátegui, and Miguel Frente, an activist and leader of an Alcasa union.
237. According to most of the newspapers accounts of these events, they occurred as a result of “job trafficking” in the sectors in question, particularly the construction sector.
238. The Commission is concerned by the reported increase in the number of union leaders who fall victim to attempts and threats on their lives and physical well-being, and is asking the Venezuelan State to explore and analyze this problem and devise adequate and effective measures to prevent it and to investigate and punish those responsible. This is all the more important given the reports complaining of a lack of statistics as to the number of union leaders whose lives and personal safety have been attacked and in view of the disparity between the figures reported by civil society organizations and those reported by state agencies.
239. Given the obligations undertaken by virtue of the American Convention, the Venezuelan State must take all measures possible to prevent violations of lives and physical well-being of human rights defenders and to diligently investigate events such as those recounted in this section, irrespective of whether those implicated are State agents or private persons.
240. Finally, the Commission applauds the fact that Venezuelan courts have ordered protective measures for some of those named in this section. As noted at paragraph 5 above, the Commission believes that the Law on Protection of Victims, Witnesses and Other Parties to Court Proceedings could be an important means to prevent the continuing violations committed against human rights defenders. In its reply, the State indicated that it was “conducting an in-depth investigation of each of the isolated events” in this chapter. The Commission is compelled to underscore how important it is that the mechanisms devised by the State to protect human rights defenders should ensure that they are able to carry on their work.
B. Other obstacles that human rights defenders face
241. Apart from the attacks on their lives and physical well-being, in 2007 the Commission continued to receive reports of other ways in which the work of human defenders was obstructed. Although more subtle, these techniques pose serious impediments to their work.
242. The Commission observes that, as has happened in the last few years, State officials continue to publicly belittle human rights defenders in order to discredit the complaints that the defenders present concerning human rights violations. By way of example, the Commission received information about charges made against NGOs and human rights defenders accusing them of being part of a plan to destabilize the government and to defy “the revolution” because they were receiving funding from organizations and countries abroad. The Commission was also told of statements made by the Attorney General of the Republic who, when presenting his annual report to the National Assembly in August 2007, stated that certain sectors of the opposition are using the theme of impunity and insecurity as a means to destabilize the government and were clearly politically motivated.
243. The Commission believes that belittling and discrediting the work done by human rights defenders could pose and/or increase the risk to their lives and personal safety. The Venezuelan State, like the other states in the region, must “refrain from making statements that stigmatize human rights defenders or that suggest that human rights organizations act improperly or illegally, merely because of engaging in their work to promote and protect human rights.”
244. Moreover, one of the concerns that some sectors of civil society expressed with regard to the constitutional amendment process has to do with Article 67 of the proposed amendment. That provision would prohibit associations having political purposes other than those pertaining to elections, from receiving funding from foreign governments or foreign public or private agencies. Civil society organizations fear that human rights organizations might be labeled as “associations having political purposes,” as some statements made by government officials and other figures associated with the government would seem to suggest.
245. In its Press Release 26 of July 19, 2006, the Commission expressed concern over certain provisions of the “Draft Legislation on International Cooperation,” which the National Assembly had under discussion. There the Commission pointed out that “the vague language of certain provisions of the draft legislation and the broad discretion given to the authorities charged with issuing enacting regulations pose the risk that this law will be interpreted in a restrictive manner in order to limit, among other things, the exercise of the rights of association, freedom of expression, political participation, and equality, and could seriously impair the functioning of nongovernmental organizations.” The Commission was also concerned because the interpretation of some of these provisions could obstruct “the activities and funding sources of nongovernmental organizations, whose independent role has been vital in strengthening Venezuelan democracy.”
246. Yet another impediment to their work reported by some human rights organizations are difficulties with access to information. For example, the Commission was informed that in March 2007, the Health Director of the Ministry of Health refused to provide the PROVEA staff with information about the country’s mental health service and facilities, alleging that, in an interview, the general coordinator of that NGO, Mr. Marino Alvarado, had compared the government of President Hugo Chávez with that of Rafael Caldera. According to the available information, before he would give PROVEA access to that information, the health director demanded that PROVEA rectify that opinion. The director’s contention was that he could not provide the information because he did not know how PROVEA would use it. Here the State indicated that the right of access to information set forth in Articles 51 and 143 of the Constitution of the Republic was exercised daily by all citizens and was a right firmly upheld in Venezuela.
247. The Commission considers important the recognition of this right by the Constitution of the Republic, given the Inter-American Court’s statement that, in a democratic society, State authorities must operate by the principle of maximum disclosure, which establishes the presumption that all information is accessible, subject to a limited system of exceptions. When establishing restrictions on access to the information it holds, it is up to the State to show that it has complied with the requirements of legality, necessity and proportionality.
IV. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
248. The Commission continued to receive information concerning obstacles to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in Venezuela. The Commission notes with concern that throughout 2007 events similar to those highlighted in previous years continued to occur, despite the Commission’s recommendations. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression received information on events in which State agents were allegedly involved. Some of those reports are recounted below:
On February 2, 2007, journalist Miguel Bellorín, with Radio Única, was allegedly attacked by an official from the office of the mayor of the municipality of Piar in Bolívar state, as he was leaving a program that he hosted. The next day, the journalist was allegedly slapped in the face and insulted by another municipal employee while the reporter was conducting interviews. The attacks are presumably motivated by his reports on sanitary conditions in the area.
On May 8, 2007, newspaper reporters Gil Montaño, with the newspaper El Universal, and David Urdaneta from the newspaper El Meridiano, were allegedly attacked by police officers as they were covering an incident provoked by the spectators at a soccer game in Caracas. Three police officers allegedly grabbed Montaño by the back to prevent him from covering the episode. They damaged two camera lenses. Urdaneta was allegedly beaten by another police officer.
Spanish journalist Anuska Buenaluque, with the Peruvian network América Televisión, told a Lima news outlet that Venezuela’s National Guard had fired rubber bullets at him during the demonstrations protesting the government’s decision not to renew Radio Caracas Televisión’s broadcasting license.
249. The Commission also received reports of private individuals physically and verbally assaulting people working in the mass media, including the State-run media, as a result of the country’s political polarization. As the Commission has said on previous occasions, most such events occur when the mass media are trying to cover events with special political connotations. Some of these incidents are described below:
On March 15, 2007, shots were fired at the residence of Father José Palmar, a columnist for the newspaper Reporte, in Zulia state. The columnist had allegedly published reports of alleged administrative irregularities at Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).
On May 20, 2007, four unknowns allegedly assaulted a team of reporters from Venezolana de Televisión as they were covering the United Venezuelan Socialist Party’s support of the party in power in San Cristobál, in the state of Táchira. According to the report, the alleged assailants threw rocks at him and shattered the side window glass on his vehicle.
On August 21, 2007, a team of journalists from RCTV Internacional was allegedly attacked by a group of unknowns at the Palace of Justice, as the team was covering a hearing concerning a lawmaker from the state of Miranda.
On September 17, 2007, a group of unknowns allegedly attacked the offices of the newspaper El Panorama, in the state of Zulia, hurling rocks, bottles and other objects and damaging the main entrances. The attack also disrupted the normal business day. The newspaper reported that for a half hour, the journalists and other employees were purportedly unable to do their work.
250. The Commission believes that acts of this type are ways of obstructing exercise of the right to freedom of expression and is urging the Venezuelan State to take all necessary measures to ensure that State agents do not in any way assault people working in the mass media and to prevent, investigate and punish any act of this nature perpetrated by private persons. The Commission welcomes the State’s reply that the corresponding institutions “[…] have investigated each of the events […]” mentioned in this chapter and “[…] adopted the necessary measures to prevent third parties from harming journalists, investigating isolated events that may have occurred, and stationing police to protect journalists and television stations […]”.
251. The Commission also notes that, in its reply on this chapter, the State indicated that the analysis on respect for the right to freedom of expression could not apply only to situations in which the activities of persons were directly linked to journalism but should extend to the right of all human beings. The Commission agrees with this concept and reaffirms what it has said on prior occasions on the obligation of States to guarantee equal opportunity of all persons to receive, seek, and impart information by any means of communication, without discrimination, eliminating any measures that would discriminate against an individual or a group of persons in terms of their equal and full participation in the political, economic, and social affairs of their country. This right guarantees all people an informed voice, and this is indispensable for the survival of democracy.
252. Another aspect that the Commission has followed closely in recent years is the use of the courts to silence criticism in the media, especially on matters of particular concern to the public. In 2007, the Commission followed the course of the cases brought in the past against journalists. Particular mention should be made of the case brought against Mr. Miguel Salazar. He is still on trial, charged with aggravated defamation of public officials as a result of having chronicled, in late 2003, a series of issues that could be described as matters of public interest: cases of corruption and human rights violations in the state of Guárico. The Commission has written that laws that criminalize expression on matters of public interest can stifle speech or cause self-censorship, which has a disproportionate effect on freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is the right that enables every individual and community to participate in active, vigorous and challenging debate on every aspect related to the normal and harmonious functioning of society. That speech may end up being critical of and even offensive to those in public office or somehow involved in crafting public policy.
253. One turn of events that is particularly troubling to the Commission is the investigation that the National Assembly’s Permanent Commission on Science and Technology and Mass Communications launched against a group of journalists for an “alleged destabilization plan.” It all came about as a consequence of a complaint brought by Mrs. Eva Gollinger and Mr. Mario Silva in which the group was accused of “receiving funding from the U.S. Department of State.” According to the information available, the government-backed newspaper Vea ran photographs of the individuals in the group with the message “People, Take A Good Look.”
254. The Commission received complaints about judicial and administrative proceedings being used in a discriminatory manner, depending upon a media outlet’s editorial line. Here the Commission was told that after Radio Caracas Televisión went off the air in May 2007, the President of the Republic made statements suggesting that Globovisión would be next. The Commission was informed that while the President was making these statements, the Supreme Court allegedly started to reactivate some cases against that channel.
255. The Commission must reiterate the observation it made in its 2006 report concerning the circumstances surrounding the refusal to renew Radio Caracas Televisión’s broadcasting license. Article 13.3 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Principle 13 of the Commission’s Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression prohibit direct pressure exerted by the State for the purpose of influencing the reporting of social communicators or attempting to curtain independent exercise of the right to report information. In effect, principle 13 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression provides that “[t]he exercise of power and the use of public funds by the state, the granting of customs duty privileges, the arbitrary and discriminatory placement of official advertising and government loans; the concession of radio and television broadcast frequencies, among others, with the intent to put pressure on and punish or reward and provide privileges to social communicators and communications media because of the opinions they express threaten freedom of expression, and must be explicitly prohibited by law.” Once again, the Commission observes that in the bidding for licenses to operate on the radioelectric spectrum, the principle of equality of opportunity dictates that States must strive to use open and transparent procedures, with clear, objective and reasonable criteria to avoid any influence dictated by discriminatory political considerations related to the media outlet’s editorial line.
256. Finally, the Commission took note of the concerns expressed in certain quarters of civil society regarding the constitutional reform proposed by the President, fearing the possibility that access to information could be restricted during states of emergency. Here it is worth noting that while the right recognized in Article 13 of the American Convention is subject to restrictions, those restrictions must be within the law and be those strictly necessary and proportionate to the end being pursued. Hence, any restriction on freedom of expression must be examined by that test, to determine whether it is compatible with the international obligations that Venezuela has undertaken.
 Article 57 of the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR establishes that: “1. The Annual Report presented by the Commission to the General Assembly of the OAS shall include the following: [...] h. any general or special report the Commission considers necessary with regard to the situation of human rights in the Member States, and, as the case may be, follow-up reports noting the progress achieved and the difficulties that have existed with respect to the effective observance of human rights; [..] 2. For the preparation and adoption of the reports provided for in paragraph 1.h of this article, the Commission shall gather information from all the sources it deems necessary for the protection of human rights. Prior to its publication in the Annual Report, the Commission shall provide a copy of said report to the respective State. That State may send the Commission the views it deems pertinent within a maximum time period of one month from the date of transmission. The contents of the report and the decision to publish it shall be within the exclusive discretion of the Commission.” Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Adopted by the Commission at its 109th special period of sessions, held from December 4 to 8, 2000, and amended at its 116th regular period of sessions, held from October 7 to 25, 2002, and at its 118th regular period of sessions, held from October 6 to 24, 2003).
 According to the information available, the attack allegedly occurred in the wake of death threats, after public disparagement by regional authorities and the day after he held a press conference at which he denounced irregularities in the public education system in that state. See: PROVEA. Derechos Humanos y Coyuntura. E-Bulletin No. 191, January 19, 2007 to February 18, 2007; Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Venezuela. 1997-2007. Caracas Vicarship on Human Rights, p. 42, citing: Communiqué from the Pro-Life Forum. “Pro-Life Forum alarmed by the attack on a human rights defender in Anzoátegui”. Caracas, February 16, 2007; Article in El Universal, February 17, 2007; Article in El Nacional, February 17, 2007.
 According to the information available, Mrs. Mier y Terán was assaulted after denouncing the warrantless arrest made at the central office of the newspaper El Siglo. Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), pp. 44 and 131, citing an interview that Sara Mier y Teran gave to the Caracas Vicarship of Human Rights, July 7, 2007.
 PROVEA. Derechos Humanos y Coyuntura. E-Bulletin No. 184, April 1, 2007 to April 22, 2007.
 PROVEA. Derechos Humanos y Coyuntura. E-Bulletin No. 182, February 24 to March 5, 2007; Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p.132.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 133.
 On previous occasions, the IACHR has singled out union leaders as one group of human rights defenders that is particularly defenseless and exposed to a variety of job-related pressures. See: IACHR, Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, March 7, 2006, paragraphs 209 to 214.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), pp. 62 and 63.
 PROVEA. Derechos Humanos y Coyuntura. E-bulletin No. 190. August 20 to September 20, 2007. Article: Lorenzo Labrique: “Violencia sindical e indiferencia estatal” [Union Violence and State Indifference].
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), pp. 67, 68 and 148. citing: Nueva Prensa de Guayana [online], January 30, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), pp. 67, 68 and 148. citing: Nueva Prensa de Guayana [online], January 30, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), pp. 68, 69 and 148; La Verdad [online], January 19, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 148; El Tiempo [online], January 16, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 148; El Tiempo [online], January 20, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p.148; Nueva Prensa de Guayana [online], January 30, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 149; Correo del Caroní [online], February 1, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 149; Correo del Caroní [online], February 1, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 149; El Tiempo [online], February 12, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 149; El Tiempo [online], February 12, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 149; El Tiempo [online], February 13, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 150; El Universal [online], April 16, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 150; Correo del Caroní [online], April 14, 2007 edition.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 150; Correo del Caroní [online], April 20, 2007 edition.
PROVEA. E-Bulletin No. 183. March 6 to March 29, 2007. Citing:
article in El Nacional, March 11, 2007. PROVEA. E-Bulletin No.
184, April 1 to 22, 2007, citing article in El Universal, April 12,
2007. Available at:
Website visited on November 9, 2007. Article in Aporrea, available
 PROVEA. Derechos Humanos y Coyuntura. E-Bulletin No. 190, August 20 to September 20, 2007. Article: Lorenzo Labrique: “Violencia sindical e indiferencia estatal”; PROVEA. Derechos Humanos y Coyuntura. E-Bulletin No. 188, July 7 to July 25, 2007.
 Mr. Alcides Magallanes, Mr. Humberto Prado Sifontes and Mrs. Sara Mier y Terán.
 During the hearing held at the 130th session, the Venezuelan State gave a lengthy presentation concerning this law, describing it as the vehicle for the measures of protection ordered by the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p. 15.
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), p.15. The Commission was told of a statement made by the Minister of Communication and Information, William Lara, to the effect that “the NGOs are fronts for certain people. Freedom House is financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department; the same government agencies are also funding Espacio Público.” News article in El Nacional. Friday, May 4, 2007, p. Nación/4.
 Speech that the Attorney General delivered before the National Assembly. Six years building a new Public Ministry. The text states the following: “In 2006, certain sectors with opposition ties, perhaps the most conservative elements who are stubbornly resisting social change in Venezuela, with support from certain private sectors in the mass media, have been trying to focus the country’s national agenda around two issues: insecurity and impunity. The mere attempt to pull these two issues to the forefront undoubtedly affects the State, its peace, calm, tranquility, harmony, its truce, and obviously its governance. Significant criminological research, done with a discerning approach, has explained how the issues of impunity and insecurity can be built up and blown out of proportions if one’s perverse intentions are to destabilize and, out of malice and cruelty, force these two issues –or at least one of them- onto the political agenda. Whether their purposes are explicable or inexplicable, foreseeable or unforeseeable, the calculation is political and the end well thought out.”
 IACHR, Annual Report 2006. Chapter IV. Venezuela, paragraph 219.
IACHR. Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the
Americas. March 7, 2006.
 Information obtained during the hearings held during the 130th session of the IACHR.
 Press release No. 26, dated July 19, 2006. “Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Concerned over Venezuelan Draft Legislation on International Cooperation.”
 Report on human rights defenders (supra note 1), pp. 50 and 51. Interview that Marino Alvarado gave to the Caracas Vicarship on Human Rights, June 26, 2007..
 Articles 51 and 143 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela provide:
Everyone has the right to petition or make representations before any authority or public official concerning matters within their competence, and to obtain a timely and adequate response. Whoever violates this right shall be punished in accordance with law, including the possibility of dismissal from office.
Citizens have the right to be informed by Public Administration, in a timely and truthful manner, of the status of proceedings in which they have a direct interest, and to be apprised of any final decisions adopted in the matter. Likewise, they have access to administrative files and records, without prejudice to the limits acceptable in a democratic society in matters relating to internal and external security, criminal, investigation and the intimacy of private life, in accordance with law regulating the matter of classification of documents with contents which are confidential or secret. No censorship of public officials reporting on matters for which they are responsible shall be permitted.
 IACH.R., Case of Claude Reyes. Judgment of September 19, 2006. Series C No. 151, paragraphs 92 and 93.
 Article in the newspaper El Progreso. Assaulted journalist Miguel Bellorín. Article appeared on February 5, 2007. Available at http://www.diarioelprogreso.com/edi-050207/html/pag44-c.htm. Website visited on November 5, 2007; Instituto Prensa y Sociedad. Venezuela. Municipal employee assaults radio reporter in the wake of critical reports. Alerta of March 15, 2007. Available at: http:www.ifex.org/es/content/view/full/81766. Website visited on November 5, 2007.
 Instituto Prensa y Sociedad: Police assault photographers to prevent them from covering an incident at a soccer game.” Alerta of May 16, 2007. Available at: http://www.ipys.org.ve/2007/a_CD_DP.htm. Website visited on November 5, 2007.
 Report on Political Discrimination in Venezuela (2003 – 2007). Case Studies. Asociación Civil Control Ciudadano para la Seguridad, la Defensa y la Fuerza Armada Nacional. p. 235. Cited in an article that appeared in El Universal, May 30, 2007. Available at: http://www.eluniversal.com/2007/05/30/pol_art_periodista-acusa-al_303824.shtml. Website visited on November 5, 2007.
 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. PRESS RELEASE. Venezuela: Freedom of Expression in Danger. AI Index: AMR 53/003/2007 (Public) News Service No.: 094/07, May 10, 2007, available at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ESLAMR530032007.
 Instituto Prensa y Sociedad. Venezuela: They shoot up the house of a columnist in Zulia. Alerta of March 27, 2007, available at: http://www.ipys.org.ve/2007/a_CD_reporte.htm. Website visited on November 5, 2007.
 PROVEA. Derechos Humanos y Coyuntura. E-Bulletin No. 191, September 26 to October 16, 2007. Article available at: http://noticias.eluniversal.com/2007/09/28/pol_art_sip-repudia-agresion_500076.shtml. Website visited on November 5, 2007.
 IACHR, Annual Report 2002. Volume II, Report of the Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression: Chapter IV, Freedom of Expression and Poverty, paragraph 7.
 See Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Compulsory Membership in an Association Prescribed by Law for the Practice of Journalism, Advisory Opinion OC-5/85 Series A, No. 5, paragraph 70.
 IACHR. Report on the Compatibility of Desacato Laws with the American Convention on Human Rights, OEA/Ser.L/V/II/88, Doc. 9 rev., February 17, 1995, 197-212. See also, I/A Court H.R., Case of Canese, Judgment of August 31, 2004, paragraphs 96-98; I/A Court H.R., Case of Herrera Ulloa, paragraphs 121 and 123; see also Eur. Court H. R., Case of The Sunday Times v. United Kingdom, par. 59; and Eur. Court H. R., Case of Barthold v. Germany, par. 59.
 PROVEA. Derechos Humanos y Coyuntura. E-Bulletin No. 189, July 28 to August 18, 2007. Citing: Article in El Nacional, August 14, 2007.
 Reporters Without Borders For Press Freedoms . National Assembly approves constitutional reform restricting access to information under State of Emergency. October 26, 2007. Available at: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24056.
 See Inter-American Court of Human Rights, The Word "Laws" in Article 30 of the American Convention on Human Rights, Advisory Opinion OC-6/86, May 9, 1986, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (Ser. A) No. 6.