VENEZUELA: Human rights lawyer Venus Faddoul has been publicly accused, threatened and harassed for her work
November 21st, 2022
Venus Faddoul is a lawyer, newscaster and human rights defender who has been working for over 12 years on cases related to the protection of women’s rights, in particular from a legal, political and communication perspective.
As a lawyer, she has led cases of great complexity, such as the defence of a matter like the interruption of pregnancy, which is almost totally criminalised in Venezuela. Venus Faddoul is also the director of 100% Estrogen, an NGO focused on creating educational content to promote multimedia material on the huge gap between men and women in Venezuela, especially on issues such as political participation, sexual rights, lack of gender perspective in the criminal system and inequality in the workplace.
The Observatory has been informed of risk episodes suffered by lawyer Venus Faddoul from 2019 to the present, observing an increasement of the risk throughout 2020 which has affected her personal security.
In 2019, the lawyer and her team were subjected to public accusations by judicial officials, police officers and legal representatives of the detainees, accusing them of intentionally slowing down the Yusleidy Salcedo Feminicide case in order to prolong the pretrial detention of the detainees.
In 2020, she undertook the case of Vannesa Rosales, a human rights defender prosecuted for assisting in the abortion of a 13-year-old sexually abused girl, being the visible face of the defence throughout the process. Due to the high international profile of the case, its repercussions in various international media, and the fact that the case was brought before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as well as the United Nations mechanisms, the lawyer, as well as her family, were profiled and identified by SEBIN (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service). Since then, the lawyer denounces having received express requests to lower the tone of the complaint, as well as threats and harassment in order for her to abandon the defence of Vannesa Rosales. During the period in which these threats took place, her private vehicle was constantly damaged.
When representing the case of Naybelis Noel and the cases mentioned, the lawyer was monitored in all her actions, which led to the opening of a criminal investigation against her. Currently, lawyer Venus Faddoul is living outside of Venezuela due to serious threats of detention for the legitimate exercise of her right to defend human rights and to denounce the lack of transparency in the Venezuelan judicial system.
The Observatory is concerned about these acts of intimidation which endanger the free and independent exercise of the lawyers’ profession, as well as victims’ effective access to justice.
The Observatory strongly condemns the attacks on lawyer Venus Faddoul and calls on the Venezuelan authorities to investigate and punish the perpetrators with all due diligence, without impunity.
The Observatory calls on the Venezuelan authorities to ensure the cessation of all attacks against lawyer Venus Faddoul and other human rights lawyers in Venezuela.
The Observatory reminds the Colombian authorities that the independence of lawyers is one of the main indicators of democratic health and the consolidation of the rule of law. This is in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990):
« 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. » (Principle 16)
« Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.» (Principle 17)
« Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions. » (Principle 18)