For the past several years, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has requested the consent of the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to carry out an on site visit in its territory with the objective of directly gathering information about the situation of human rights in that country. As of this time, the requested consent has not been granted. In light of this and with the aim of bringing together the means to carry out its mandate of evaluating achievements and challenges in the area of human rights, the IACHR has prepared a questionnaire to remit to the Government of Venezuela and solicit its cooperation. Through the questionnaire, qualitative and quantitative information is requested, including reports, specific evaluations, statistical information, and budgetary information, among other things, relevant to the enjoyment of the rights protected in the American Convention on Human Rights and other instruments of the inter-American system.   


The information provided in response to the present questionnaire will be used in the analysis of the situation of human rights in Venezuela. The considerations, conclusions, and recommendations that arise from this analysis will be reflected in a report on the human rights situation in that country, which will assist the State in complying with its international obligations.


A.             The protection of human rights in the legal and political system


1.                    What are the mechanisms established in the Constitution and the laws for the exercise and protection of the human rights of the inhabitants?


2.                    What are the mechanisms established in the Constitution and the laws to guarantee the independence of the branches of the State?


3.                    By what means is constitutional control exercised over decrees with the force of law?


4.                    What are the mechanisms aimed at encouraging transparency and the rendering of accounts in public administration?


5.                    What norms and practices govern the use of states of exception?


B.             Economic, social, and cultural rights


6.                    What is the state of compliance with the Millennium Development Goals? Detail the measures adopted and the plans for compliance that are in place.


7.                    What are the achievements and challenges in the area of eradication of extreme poverty and hunger?

8.            Please provide the available indicators on:


a)         rates of infant mortality (in addition to the national rate, please indicate the rate by sex, by urban and rural zones, and also, if possible, by socioeconomic group, ethnicity, and geographic zone);

b)        access by the population to potable water (please distinguish between the urban and rural population);

c)         life expectancy (with breakdown by urban and rural zones, socioeconomic groups, and gender);

d)        proportion of the population with access to personnel trained for the treatment of common illnesses and injuries and appropriate treatment for pregnancy and childhood. 


9.                    What are the measures adopted with the aim of complying with the obligation to provide obligatory and free primary education for all?


10.                 What is the objective of the literacy missions and who can enter this program?


11.                 What is the percentage of the budget (or of the regional budgets) allotted for education? Please describe your educational system, your activity in the construction of new schools, the proximity of the schools, particularly in rural areas, as well as about the scholastic lists.


12.                 What are the perspectives and achievements with respect to access to free secondary education?


13.                 What are the challenges in relation to literacy? What is the scope of current programs (target population, financing) and what are the results in terms of enrollment and graduation statistics by age and gender?


14.                 What measures have been adopted to ensure access to primary medical care?


15.                 What are the guidelines of the national healthcare policy?


16.                 What are the perspectives for long-term continuity of educational, nutritional, health, and cultural programs?


17.                 What are the supervision mechanisms for these social programs?


18.                 What are the rights established in the Constitution and the laws that are being implemented through current social programs?


19.                 What are the mechanisms established in the Constitution and the laws to make economic, social, and cultural rights effective in Venezuela?


C.             Public safety


20.                 What are the principle challenges in the area of public safety and the reduction of violent crimes?


21.                 What are the official sources of updated information about acts of violence that affect the public?

22.                 What are the statistics on acts of violence that affect the public?


23.                 What is the number of violent crimes committed annually against members of the public during the last five years? What are the statistics by gender and socioeconomic level?


24.                 What proportion of violent crimes has been attributed directly or indirectly to agents of the State (members of the police agents, the militias, the Armed Forces, or other security bodies) and how many have been cleared up judicially?


25.                 What is the annual number of deaths in confrontations with police agents during the last five years?


26.                 What are the mechanisms aimed at guaranteeing the transparency of investigative proceedings involving state agents?


27.                 Are there statistics of the Attorney General’s Office on the investigations initiated into homicides imputed to police agents?


28.                 What is the number of convictions against police agents for criminal conduct committed in exercise of their functions by year, in the past five years?


29.                 Are statistics available about the proportion of crimes that have affected socially marginalized persons?


30.                 What measures have been adopted to prevent killings-for-hire?


31.                 What are the competency, structure, functioning, training, and mechanism of supervision of the national militia designated by Decree Law No. 6239 (Organic Law on the Bolivarian National Armed Force) for the maintenance of domestic order?


D.            Administration of justice


32.                 What is the percentage of the national and state budgets dedicated to the Judicial Branch?


33.                 What percentage of the national and state budgets is allotted to the Attorney General’s Office or the prosecutor’s offices?


34.                 What are the norms and practices that govern the selection of criminal law judges and judges in the contentious administrative jurisdiction?


35.                 What is the prevision in terms of the total number of positions for prosecutors and for judges?


36.                 What is the number of provisional and temporary prosecutors and judges in the framework of the process of filling positions?


37.                 What are the norms and practices aimed at making the right to access to justice effective?


38.                 What is the average duration of criminal and contentious administrative proceedings and its compatibility with the right to due process of the law with full guarantees within a reasonable time period? What are the statistics by jurisdiction? 


39.                 What is the number of contentious administrative proceedings initiated and how many have final judgments, in the last five years?


E.             Work in defense of human rights


40.                 What requirements does the national legislation have for forming an organization with the objective of promoting and defending human rights and for the financing of its activities? 


41.                 How do the regulations on international cooperation function?


42.                 What are the norms and/or mechanisms aimed at promoting and guaranteeing the ability of human rights defenders and their supporters to carry out their work to investigate cases related to presumed human rights violations without undue restrictions?


43.                 Indicate in what way the State has facilitated access to information by nongovernmental organizations in matters related to the administration of the State and its dependencies.


44.                 What has been the impact of the “Law on the protection of victims, witnesses and other procedural subjects” on the protection of human rights defenders?


F.             Freedom to receive and disseminate information


45.                 What are the norms and mechanisms that govern the right of access to public information?


46.                 What are the mechanisms established to guarantee the plurality, diversity, and independence of communications media (including community communications media)?


47.                 What are the existing mechanisms to protect communications media and journalists that have been threatened as a result of their editorial line?


48.                 What are the legitimate limits on freedom of expression according to the legal order?


49.                 What has been the scope of the interpretation of the norms on desacato (disrespect), defamation, injuria (insult), instigation, outrage, calumnia (slander), and criminalization of protest, established by the 2005 reforms to the Penal Code?


50.                 What is the definition of “hate speech” or “incitation to violence” according to the legal order?


51.                 What has been the impact of the Law on Social Responsibility in Radio and Television on the effective exercise of the right to freedom of expression?


52.                 What are the mechanisms aimed at ensuring the independence and impartiality of the authority applying this norm?


53.                 How is access to official publicity by communications media regulated?


54.                 What are the available mechanisms for obtaining the rectification of expressions disseminated by communications media or to repair their consequences?  


G.            Right to association for labor purposes


55.                 What guarantees do workers have to enable them to affiliate with the union of their choice?


56.                 What are the norms and mechanisms that govern the formation of an association for union purposes?


57.                 Please indicate whether special legal dispositions exist in relation to the exercise of the right to strike for certain categories of workers.


H.            Situation of indigenous peoples


58.                 What is the indigenous population of Venezuela?


59.                 Through what norms and mechanisms is the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples guaranteed?


60.                 What are the measures that have been adopted with the aim of making the exploration for and exploitation of natural resources compatible with the right of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands?


I.              Women’s rights


61.                 What mechanisms do women have to make their right to equality and non-discrimination effective?


62.                 What are the laws and policies that have been adopted in the last five years to promote the inclusion of women in places of public power, for example, through affirmative action?


63.                 What are the current mechanisms to ensure access to justice by women in a situation of risk with respect to acts of discrimination?


64.                 What national and/or local plans, policies, and programs is the State implementing to prevent, sanction, and/or eradicate discrimination against women?


65.                 What are the statistics in the area of violence against women and intra-family violence in the past five years?


66.                 How many complaints of violence against women and intra-family violence reach the stage of judgment and conviction?


67.                 What is the special protection available to girls and women of marginalized ethnic and racial groups, women in unfavorable socioeconomic situations, and women who inhabit rural areas, among others?


J.              Children’s rights


68.                 What are the norms and mechanisms that guarantee the protection of the rights of children?


69.                 What are the programs aimed at addressing the problem of children who are abandoned or that live in the streets?


70.                 What are the norms aimed at preventing corporal punishment and other forms of violence against children?


71.                 What are the statistics regarding violence against children in the last five years?


72.                 What are the norms and mechanisms that govern the juvenile criminal justice system?


K.             Situation of persons deprived of liberty


73.                 What are the norms and mechanisms that govern the regime applicable to persons deprived of liberty?


74.                 What are the roles of the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Attorney General’s Office, and the judges for execution of sentences in relation to persons deprived of liberty?


75.                 What are the mechanisms of judicial control over the conditions of detention in Venezuela?


76.                 How many detention facilities exist in Venezuela and how are they divided in terms of levels of security, procedural status of the cases, and age and gender of the persons deprived of liberty?


77.                 What is the capacity of the detention facilities? What is the number of persons deprived of liberty in Venezuela and specifically, how many of them are convicted, charged, adults, women, and children? 


78.                 How many persons deprived of liberty have lost their lives due to violence in the past five years? How many of these cases were resolved judicially?


79.                 What short-term measures have been adopted with the aim of addressing prison violence?



[1007] Sent by the IACHR to the State of Venezuela on July 6, 2009. The State’s response to this questionnaire was received by the IACHR on August 13, 2009.