Rt Hon William Hague MP Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Foreign and Commonwealth Office King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH 14 March 2014
Dear Foreign Secretary, On behalf of Transparency International UK, I would like to express our deep concern about the current violence and worsening human rights situation in Venezuela. Transparency International is a global anti-corruption movement operating in more than one hundred countries sharing one vision: a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption. We are extremely concerned by the current events in Venezuela where citizens are attacked as they protest about a number of important issues, including corruption. In responding to the protests, the Government has denied Venezuelans their basic freedoms, including access to information, peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Dozens of people have reportedly been killed, injured, tortured and unlawfully detained since the protests started at the beginning of February when students began peaceful mass demonstrations against the Government and the spread of corrupt practices. Transparency International has called on the Venezuelan Government to guarantee with immediate effect the right of citizens to access to information, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. The denial of citizensâ€™ access to impartial and uncensored information, limitations to peaceful protest, and denials of due process are not only unconstitutional under Venezuelan law, but clearly violate the stateâ€™s obligations under articles 19(2), 21 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We believe the Government must end the harassment of independent media and journalists, including lifting the continued information blackouts in the country. We believe the Venezuelan authorities should investigate these violations and the violence that has occurred during demonstrations in an independent, accountable and transparent manner. The events should not be used as an excuse to prosecute political opponents. Over and above the immediate response to the current protests, it is clear that corruption, understood as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, and weak institutions, exacerbate and will perpetuate the current situation. The limited REG OFFICE: CAN MEZZANINE - 32-36 LOMAN STREET - LONDON SE1 0EH, UK TEL: 020 7922 7906 FAX: 020 7922 7907 INFO@TRANSPARENCY.ORG.UK WWW.TRANSPARENCY.ORG.UK REGISTERED IN ENGLAND AND WALES, NUMBER 2903386 REGISTERED CHARITY, NUMBER 1112842
autonomy of key institutions makes them ineffective in guaranteeing the rights of all citizens and upholding democratic principles and the rule of law. It should be legitimate for citizens to demand, through peaceful protest, a government and a social environment free of daily corruption. The United Kingdom Government has recently taken an admirably robust stance in relation to a similar situation in Ukraine. Transparency International UK urges the UK Government to take a clear public stance condemning the current situation in Venezuela and the related issues of corruption, human rights violations and unconstitutional behaviour. We would ask you to begin by using the current session of the UN Human Rights Council to raise your concerns about the situation in Venezuela under Item 4 on country situations (March 17-18 2014). Transparency International chapters from around the world are sending similar letters of concern to their respective Foreign Ministers. Together we are asking the international community to call for the preservation of peace and democracy in Venezuela, as part of our global mission to fight corruption.
Robert Barrington Executive Director Transparency International UK