This week, while the People’s Ombudsman, was saying that the US Government had no moral right to talk about human rights, his ears must have been buzzing, because that same day the OAS Interamerican Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) was once again blasting the Chavez Government for precisely that. Of course, the Ombudsman has seldom defended human rights, devoting his time mostly to the defense of the same Government the CIDH was blasting.
Just so you understand the CIDH is composed of seven members, each proposed by a member country of the OAS. But the members are not representatives of the Government, the Government’s propose them, but they have to be people who have a track record in the defense of human rights. Once they are accepted as members of the commission, the members are independent of the Governments.
Besides hearing cases on human rights, the members of the CIDH, write a yearly report. This report includes a chapter on which countries are considered to be “delinquent” countries in that severe human rights violations are or have taken place.
In 2005, the CIDH had four countries in the list: Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Ecuador, because democratically elected Presidents had been removed from office. Colombia, because of the continued violation of human rights by the paramilitary and Cuba and Venezuela for numerous violations. What sets apart Cuba and Venezuela is that in the other two cases, the CIDH did not say the Government was doing nothing about it, while in both the cases of Cuba and Venezuela, the CIDH noted the lack of effort by the Government’s to defend Human Rights.
This years report was no different in the case of Venezuela. There were four cases heard in front of the commission: The situation of human rights defenders in Venezuela, the problems of freedom of speech, the problems of instutotiunaility and respect for human rights and the problems with citizen security and para-police groups.
This generated a confrontation at the CIDH when the Venezuelan representative accused that body of bad faith, partiality and distorting informations. Members of the CIDH were offended by the language used by the Venezuelan diplomat in charge of human rights. They said never had the commission been as insulted. Moreover, he noted the attitude of the Chavez Government towards the CIDH and its seven members. The head of the CIDH recalled that Chavez called tem intellectuals eunuchs and once again reminded everyone that the Venezuelan Government ahs not allowed the customary visit by CIDH members and staff, which in his opinion, proves the lack of political will by Venezuela. He noted that his term will expire and he has never been able to go to Venezuela. Moreover, the Government has yet to act on any of the requests by the Commission to provide special protection to more than 200 jpurnalists or human rights activists that have been attacked, largely by pro-Chavez activists.
The Venezuelan Government considers many of the actions and activities of the CIDH to be an intromission in the country’s affairs, but country’s that signed the charter, recognize that it has constitutional hierarchy within the country, something the Chávez administration has refused to recognize.
For the second year in a row, Venezuela will once again be in the delinquent list, while the People’s Ombudsman and Chavista human rights defenders look the other way or spend their time defending the rights of the Government.