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VENEZUELA: Lawyer Jecson Ricardo Cariel Garcia arbitrarily detained since August 5th, 2022

18 novembre 2022

Jecson Ricardo Cariel García is a lawyer, social activist and human rights defender in Venezuela. The lawyer has promoted multiple activities and programs focused on the promotion of the right of access to justice in the country, particularly in the states of Mérida, Táchira and Trujillo.

On August 5th, 2022, Jecson Cariel was arbitrarily detained in the city of San Cristobal (Táchira), by an irregular police procedure carried out by the F.A.E.S., currently known as the Strategic Criminal Investigation Division (D.I.E.P.). The detention was carried out in violation of due process and without the legal protections of a fair trial[1]. According to the information received, the lawyer was subjected to enforced disappearance for a period of more than 120 hours, and was then held in absolute isolation and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The arrest took place in the context of Jecson Cariel’s active work in the Táchira-Norte de Santander border area[2]. The lawyer had managed to obtain testimonies on complaints not investigated by the Venezuelan state. In addition, he documented specific cases of human rights violations and collected evidence of multiple irregularities that would compromise the Táchira state authorities.

As a result of Jecson Cariel’s work in this troubled region of the country, he received multiple threats via whatsapp asking urging him to leave Táchira State or else he would be „seeded“, a colloquial term used referring to the planting of false evidence in a judicial proceeding or criminal investigation.

Since his arrest, he has been kept almost absolutely isolated, with very limited access to basic resources for personal hygiene, food and medical care. He has also been denied the right of access to summary information about the alleged criminal investigation and is being forced to be assigned a court-appointed lawyer without his prior consent. For more than 98 days he has been denied communication with his relatives or trusted lawyers.

In this regard, it is likewise concerning that human rights lawyers from the NGO „Iniciativa por una Justicia Igualitaria“ have reported receiving serious threats and attacks for their participation in the defence of this case. In particular, lawyer Omar Antonio Mendoza Gil, who was forced to flee Venezuela, and lawyer Héctor Uzcátegui, who is part of the legal team defending Jecson Ricardo Cariel García. This lawyer team of continues attempting to arrange for the designation of the detainee’s legal counsel without success to date, due to the restrictions and limitations imposed by the authorities on access to such a procedure.

 

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention of lawyer Jecson Ricardo Cariel García, which took place outside the law, seriously violating the due process guarantees established by national law, as well as by the international treaties to which Venezuela is party.

The Observatory calls on Venezuelan authorities to respect the fundamental rights of Mr. Jecson Ricardo Cariel García and the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which state that :

 „Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.“ (Principe 16)

„Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients‘ causes as a result of discharging their functions.“. (Principe 18)

„No court or administrative authority before whom the right to counsel is recognized shall refuse to recognize the right of a lawyer to appear before it for his or her client unless that lawyer has been disqualified in accordance with national law and practice and in conformity with these principles.“ (Principe 19)

„It is the duty of the competent authorities to ensure lawyers access to appropriate information, files and documents in their possession or control in sufficient time to enable lawyers to provide effective legal assistance to their clients. Such access should be provided at the earliest appropriate time.” (Principe 21)

 

 

 

[1]   Rights recognised in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in the Organic Code of Criminal Procedure, as well as in international agreements and treaties. 

[2] This is a border area between Venezuela and Colombia where there is serious social conflict and problems of violence through irregular groups that control the area.