English | News | Reports | 21 mayo 2013

Venezuela NGO response to assault in the National Assembly (statement, 16 April 2013)


CARACAS, Venezuela: The member organizations of Monitor Legislativo would like to express their utmost condemnation of the incidents which took place in the Venezuelan National Assembly on April 16, 2013.

Primarily, we ask that the physical acts of violence inflicted on the Merida Senator, William Davila, are investigated and prosecuted accordingly. Davila was impacted by a wireless microphone which was thrown inside the congress chamber. He was then taken to a hospital in Caracas and his injury required 14 stiches. In accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution, we would like to highlight that the congress is to serve as an open space for pluralistic dialogue for the elected representatives. Physical or verbal attacks are unacceptable in the parliamentary institution, and the president of the national assembly is responsible for guaranteeing free expression for all members without censorship or threats to their physical wellbeing.

We ask that the National Assembly’s directive condemn, investigate, and take the necessary measures to prevent a similar attack from occurring in the chamber. It is also worth noting that similar occurrences have happened under the presidency of Senator Diosdado Cabello.

Additionally, the member organizations of Monitor Legislativo are extremely worried about the stance which the National Assembly President, Diosdado Cabello, has taken in establishing a mechanism which violates the right to freedom of expression of all Senators who do not recognize Nicolas Maduro as President of Venezuela. This attempt of censorship is a clear violation of the constitutional rights of all members of parliament, as established in the Venezuelan Constitution and the Interior Rules for Debates, and establishes a grave precedent for those who exercise the role. These actions violate the constitutional rights which all senators, regardless of their political affiliation, are entitled to and furthermore inhibit their capacity to carry out the duties which citizens entrusted in them through the election process.

The event described above is contrary to the right of speech established in the Regulatory materials, section 2 article 17. Furthermore, according to articles 70 and 71, the right of speech in the chamber can only be revoked in two scenarios i) when the senator is absent from the chamber when called upon and ii) when the senator deviates from the topic which is being discussed, neither of which apply to the session that took place yesterday. Therefore, the decision is not in accordance to the rules and regulations, much more so because article 74 establishes that the president of the assembly is responsible for ensuring the senator’s rights when in session.

In sum, the session which took place on April 16th 2013 is a clear reflection of demise of democracy in the country. We therefore urge that such discriminatory and unconstitutional mechanism be stopped immediately.

Likewise, we manifest our rejection to the removal of all senators of the opposition party from the National Assembly. This would exemplify clear political retaliation which is unacceptable in democratic institutions and further weaken the frail institutionalism of Venezuela.

In response to the occurrences described, we would like to reiterate our requests:

In relation to the physical aggressions against William Davila, we request that responsibility be taken immediately and that proper measures are taken against the aggressors, including authorities and functionaries which are responsible for the security of all members of the National Assembly.

In relation to the censorship mechanism imposed on the opposition senators, we demand that such harassment and political apartheid be stopped immediately, and that their parliamentary rights are respected and protected.

In relation to the possible removal of senators who do not recognize Maduro from the National Assembly, we demand their immediate reinstatement.

We solicit all of the above in accordance with the Constitution of Venezuela and rules and regulations of parliament that guarantee a democratic institution and contradict the actions taken by the President of the National Assembly.

Monitor Legislativo is a group of civil society organizations, academics and social communicators which understand the importance of the legislative power and follow the actions of the National Assembly closely. Our mission is to monitor and inform citizens of the actions of all elected representatives in adherence to constitutional parameters and our commitment to transparency.

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